In an effort to address homelessness throughout the state, California Gov. Gavin Newsom launched a 100-day challenge, allowing individual cities and counties to apply for Emergency Homelessness Aid.
As a part of the challenge, cities and counties throughout California can apply for money available through the Emergency Homelessness Aid, according to a press release. The last time Emergency Homelessness Aid was made available, the city of Berkeley received more than $4 million, according to Stefan Elgstrand, spokesperson for Mayor Jesse Arreguín.
There is no current information, however, as to whether Berkeley will participate in this year’s challenge and apply for state aid.
“With a single stroke of your pen, you can make a major, positive impact on homelessness right away,” Newsom wrote in a letter to President Donald Trump, cited in the press release. “You can immediately order your Department of Housing and Urban Development to house 50,000 homeless Californians with federal housing vouchers – this, combined with critically important increases in fair market rents, can stably house a significant portion of our street homeless population faster than almost any other action you could possibly take.”
The $4 million Berkeley previously received was spent on the Pathways STAIR Navigation Center — which provides shelter, meals, showers and laundry facilities, as well as encampment garbage removal, among other services.
According to Elgstrand, Berkeley has seen a 14% increase in the homeless population since 2017, which remains below Alameda County’s 43% increase.
Despite the increase in the general homeless population, Elgstrand added that “the number of people who reported experiencing homeless for the first time dropped by 36%.”
At its Dec. 3 meeting, Berkeley City Council allocated the first round of Measure P funds toward homelessness services, including the STAIR Center.
Additionally, $2.5 million was allocated toward permanent housing subsidies, according to Elgstrand.