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Mayors Make Pitch For Homeless Help In California

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Mayors in California met with Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday in an effort to combat homelessness. They're looking for state funding to help their cities tackle the issues.

"We have the highest number of homeless people in any state in the country," said Assemblyman Phil Ting, (District 19). "The state really needs to do something now."

The Big 11 Mayors represent the most populated cities in California, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Ana, Anaheim, Oakland Fresno, San Jose, Long Beach and Bakersfield. They gathered on the steps of the state Capitol building today to pledge their support for Assembly Bill 3171.

"Homelessness need not be hopelessness because we know the answers!" said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, chairman of the Big 11 group.

Under the bill, written by Ting, the Local Homelessness Solutions Program would be created. The state would allocate $1.5 billion in state funding, and collectively, the cities would match that amount, creating a $3 billion pool of cash for long-term homelessness solutions.

"The resources we're talking about here at the state level will be able to be flexible to go towards housing, to go towards all of these prevention and diversion services," said Mark Farrell, interim mayor of San Francisco.

As of 2017, there are an estimated 134,278 Californians who don't have a place to call home.

Robert Lee Jones told CBS13 he's been sleeping outside of the county jail for roughly three years.

"It's tough out here," Jones said. "At night, you really have to find a warm place to live."

"Nobody should be out on the streets," Steinberg said to Jones. "It is one of the most significant quality-of-life challenges facing all of our cities."

According to Steinberg, the number of people who've experienced homelessness in Sacramento has gone up 30% in the last two years.

"And Sacramento's story is not unique," he said.

With 50,000 homeless people in Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti is ready to stand with his fellow mayors to make a change.

"This is the state of innovation," he told CBS13. "But we don't judge ourselves by the nicest designed car, but who's living in the car!"

And as these mayors continue to work on AB 3171, state aid couldn't come soon enough for people like Jones.

"Spend the money only on the homeless to get peoples up out of danger!" Jones said.

If the funding is appropriated through the state budget, cities could see those dollars as soon as July 1st.

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