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Governor Says 'No' to a Homelessness State of Emergency

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LA disagrees

Only a day after the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a motion calling for Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency over the state's growing homeless population, Brown has made it clear he has no intentions to do so. In an email to KPCC, Brown’s press secretary said, "a gubernatorial declaration is not appropriate," adding that local governments, "remain best positioned to tackle challenges like this and tailor solutions to the needs of their communities."

Supervisors aren’t asking for an emergency declaration because they’re having trouble tailoring solutions. A state of emergency would open up millions of dollars of funding the county needs to pay for an ambitious plan to combat homelessness that the supervisors approved in February.

Now that Brown has made clear that won’t happen, a spokesman for supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas says the county will continue pushing for a tax on millionaires to fund homeless assistance. The county also needs Brown’s go-ahead to put a measure on the November ballot asking voters to approve such a tax. So far, the governor seems unlikely to support the proposition.

Brown has lent his support to a $2 billion bond included in the state budget that will fund the construction of affordable housing across the state. Much of that money will be distributed to Los Angeles County, which is home to about 40 percent of the state’s homeless population. However, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority estimates another $450 million in non-housing costs will be needed to properly address the county’s homelessness problem. The supervisors are quickly running out of options to find sources for these funds.

City leaders also contemplated asking the governor to declare a state of emergency over homelessness this past fall, but backed out of the plan when it became clear the governor would not support it.