Audit: California Doesn’t Know Cost of its Own Homeless Programs

On Tuesday, an audit determined that the state of California does not even know the full cost of its numerous homelessness programs, even after spending billions of dollars on such efforts.

According to the Daily Caller, the report by the State Auditor’s office revealed that the California Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) “has not consistently tracked and evaluated” its own attempts to reduce homelessness. Subsequently, the state “lacks current information on the ongoing costs and outcomes of its homelessness programs.”

The California Legislative Analyst’s Office has reported that, in the last five years, the state of California has spent over $24 billion on various projects dealing with homelessness and housing projects. The homeless population has skyrocketed in the last decade, rising from 118,552 in 2013 to about 181,399 in 2023, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The auditor’s report claimed that the ICH had “not established a consistent method” for studying the efficiency of programs that received state funding, and thus could also not determine whether or not the money was being spent effectively. What little data the ICH did compile, the auditor said that it was impossible to verify its accuracy as well.

In response, the auditor’s office recommended several fixes for accurately reporting the efficiency and the full finances of the ICH, including developing a scorecard-type system to record the number of people entering and exiting homelessness, plus entries documenting all expenses of the various programs connected to the ICH.

Following the auditor’s report, the ICH issued a statement dismissing the critical findings and instead declaring itself to be a success, while shifting blame to local governments.

“The State Auditor’s findings highlight the significant progress made in recent years to address homelessness at the state level, including the completion of a statewide assessment of homelessness programs,” said the ICH’s statement. “It also underscores a need to continue to hold local governments accountable, who are primarily responsible for implementing these programs and collecting data on outcomes that the state can use to evaluate program effectiveness.”

The state of California has significantly increased its focus on dealing with homelessness in recent years. In the Super Tuesday primaries back in March, voters in the state narrowly approved a ballot referendum, Proposition 1, to spend another $6.4 billion on homelessness.

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About Eric Lendrum

Eric Lendrum graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was the Secretary of the College Republicans and the founding chairman of the school’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter. He has interned for Young America’s Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, and the White House, and has worked for numerous campaigns including the 2018 re-election of Congressman Devin Nunes (CA-22). He is currently a co-host of The Right Take podcast.

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