San Francisco Hosts 2nd Annual West Coast Mayors Summit
Mayors from nine cities convene in San Francisco for two day summit to discuss top priorities, homelessness and resiliency
Mayors of nine West Coast cities from California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington gathered for the 2nd annual West Coast Mayors Summit hosted by Mayor Edwin M. Lee to discuss the issues of homelessness and resiliency.
Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Sacramento Mayor-elect Darrell Steinberg, West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and San Francisco Mayor Lee participated in the discussions.
“Now more than ever it’s critical that leaders are united in tackling the issues we face in our urban cores,” said Mayor Lee. “By bringing together mayors from up and down the West Coast we can explore new innovative strategies, leverage our resources and make a powerful call for a renewed focus on homelessness and resiliency.”
The two day summit began with a focus on homelessness. The recently released 2016 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress found that 549,928 people in the country experienced homelessness on a single night in 2016, a decline of 14 percent since 2010. Despite this national decrease, many West Coast cities have seen an increase in homelessness. The recent increases are related to the high cost of housing, low vacancy rates, and the opioid crisis.
“As Seattle and our fellow West Coast cities develop solutions to the homelessness crisis, we must focus on the individual needs of those living on our streets,” said Mayor Murray. “This means not simply addressing homelessness, but also its causes, from a lack of affordable housing to funding for mental health and substance abuse treatment. Homelessness is often the result of many other public policy and environmental failures and we must seek to address those if we are going to serve those in need.”
“Homelessness is not hopelessness in Sacramento or any other city in this country,” said Mayor-elect Steinberg. “It is first and foremost a humanitarian issue, weighing on our collective conscious and challenging our nation to be innovative, collaborative, and compassionate. As mayors from West Coast cities we clearly have a common agenda around homelessness. Especially in these times we must band together to tackle the issues and learn from each other.”
“All of the mayors participating in this summit have similar challenges with homelessness and have found a number of unique solutions,” said Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “As we deal with challenges at the federal level, these west coast cities and Honolulu are united to help our residents find permanent housing.”
The mayors, joined by United States Interagency Council on Homelessness Executive Director Matthew Doherty, discussed the challenges of preventing and ending homelessness in their communities and shared best-practices. Each mayor presented on recent successes in their cities’ fight to end homelessness. Presentations ranged from strategies to raise local resources, innovative ways to address street homelessness and encampments, and leveraging initiatives we know work to end veteran, youth and family homelessness.
“Portland, like many cities, is grappling with a crisis — more people are sleeping outside than we have housing available,” said Mayor Charlie Hales. “The crisis has also brought the opportunity for innovative solutions through new partnerships. I’m proud that Portland is the first West Coast city to receive official designation in meeting the White House’s Mayors Challenge to End Veterans Homelessness. This achievement would not have been possible without the dedication of federal resources in our community. In order to sustain the incredible progress we’ve made, we need continued support from the federal government to ensure everyone has a safe and affordable place to call home.”
“Every major U.S. city is grappling with a growing homelessness crisis,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo. “Here in San Jose, we’ve employed innovative strategies to increase the supply of housing for our most vulnerable residents and led a community-wide campaign that is more than half way to our goal to end veteran homelessness in Santa Clara County. However, building upon this success will require a commitment from the federal government to continue investing in and supporting cities’ efforts to advance proven and cost-effective housing-first solutions.”
“In cities across our nation, we are faced with increasing homelessness and income insecurity brought on by a growing affordability crisis,” said Mayor Libby Schaaf. “We need room for innovation, coordination across jurisdictional and agency lines, and every tool available to help foster resiliency in our cities in order to address these chronic issues. In Oakland we have a pilot to support homeless residents living in encampments that also improves quality of life for nearby residents as we work to move people into permanent housing.”
“In Los Angeles, we continue pushing forward with creative solutions that include investing every City dollar available, leveraging existing resources and approving LA’s largest homelessness housing bond to invest $1.2 billion into the construction of homeless housing over the next decade,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. Our efforts have helped house more than 21,000 Angelenos, but with thousands more still sleeping on our streets every night, we must do more. We need to build on our momentum and take successful efforts to scale. As neighboring Mayors, we have to join our voices and point them towards Washington to ensure our cities get the funding and support they need to tackle this crisis.”
The mayors, speaking in one voice, called for leadership from Washington; citing a long history of bipartisan support, across administrations, for ending homelessness. The federal government, together with states, counties, and cities, has the responsibility to ensure access to affordable, quality housing for homeless residents in need of support. Housing provides the base for personal wellbeing, community stability, and economic growth.