San Luis Obispo says new budget allows them to invest more in addressing housing and homelessness
Due to a surplus of funding, the City of San Luis Obispo recently adopted a new financial budget that will allow them to invest more money in major city goals like housing and homelessness. The city’s financial plan was originally adopted in June 2021, but was updated to reflect the added funding. It outlines how the city will lend support to more than 70 public service programs.
After accumulating an extra $17.5 million in the financial plan due to income from local sales tax Measure G-20 and the American Rescue Plan Act, the city says they will be able to invest more resources to areas in need.
"We have been able to expand services to meet a lot of the needs from the major city goals,” City Manager Derek Johnson said at the June 7 council meeting. He said city staff plan to expand services at 40 Prado Homeless Service Center, support more affordable housing, and develop a mobile crisis unit to provide direct support for those in need.
“We’re really excited to move forward because we think that this will help serve the chronically homeless population that have been dealing with various mental health crises, and will provide that added support without the need of police or law enforcement,” said the city’s Public Communications Manager Whitney Szentesi.
“That is what we’re focused on doing, is creating more housing options for everyone and then also at the same time collaborating with local non profit partners to discover and implement comprehensive and effective strategies to reduce and prevent chronic homelessness," Szentesi said.
The city and county already have some programs in place aimed at addressing these issues. There is also opposition to the city's actions on homelessness, however, as advocates including the California Legal Assistance have filed a lawsuit against the city for allegedly criminalizing homelessness during the course of the pandemic.
Of the $17.5 million in the city’s surplus, $4 million is coming from the recently implemented 1% sales tax, Measure G-20. The other $13.5 million is coming from The American Rescue Plan Act, a federal covid relief fund.
The city has received a majority of that federal funding and expects to get the rest of the funds July 1.