Assemblywoman Luz Rivas and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Hold Press Conference on California’s Hidden Homeless
SACRAMENTO – Assemblywoman Luz Rivas (D-Arleta) held a press conference on Assembly Bill (AB) 16 to ensure the state’s homeless students are getting the resources they need to succeed. Assemblywoman Luz Rivas was joined by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) Tony Thurmond, Chair of the Latino Legislative Caucus, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, and her colleagues, Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath, Cristina Garcia, Kevin McCarty and James Ramos.
AB 16 establishes a comprehensive policy approach that assist local communities that are struggling to provide services to homeless families with children by increasing the number of California Department of Education (CDE) Homeless Coordinators providing statewide oversight and, funding three geographically located County Offices of Education to develop Regional Technical Assistance Centers.
“We know that the state has 200,000 homeless children, yet 400 school districts have failed to identify a single homeless child, so that number could be even higher. In the state with the world’s 5th largest economy, it is completely unacceptable that we are failing these children,” said Assemblywoman Luz Rivas. “We need to show these children that we care, that they matter, and that we want them to succeed.”
“The number of homeless students in our California schools is growing at an alarming rate. We need to build more capacity at the state level, in order for us to support our schools that serve this population of our students. Every child deserves an equal opportunity to attend school, be successful, and move on towards a path of college or career. The passage of AB 16 would help us provide these resources to some of our most vulnerable students in our education system. I am thankful for the leadership of Assemblywoman Rivas and her efforts to ensure that homeless families with students are receiving all of the appropriate services that are available to them,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.
“Our Latino populations continue to face the sharpest increases in homelessness,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), Chair of Californian’s Latino Legislative Caucus. “It is almost inconceivable that California hasn’t already taken this step to support homeless children. While the president continues to push his message that our Latino children don’t matter, we here in California will continue to let them know they matter and they are supported.”
“Areas of my district, specifically in the City of Vista, have deep pockets of poverty, leaving many children homeless or housing insecure. When children don’t know where they’re sleeping or have a safe roof over their head, we all know that their chances to succeed in school and in life are severely hindered. It is our moral obligation as a society to take action and help our neighbors in need,” said Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath (D-North San Diego County). “AB16 is a small but important step forward to help identify and protect our children. I am proud to be a coauthor of this bill, because no child should have to worry about where they are going to sleep tonight.”
“As a math teacher for 13 years I know first-hand that in order for children to be successful we need to make sure their families have access to the support services they need. A kid might not be able to fix their family’s economic problems, but that doesn’t mean they don’t worry, and that stress is not only traumatic but makes learning nearly impossible,” said Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens). “For many kids schools are the place they turn to for help, as a teacher, having professionals around that can help the kids and families better navigate the system allows us to focus on our job of teaching instead of trying to be both a social worker and a teacher.”
“AB 16 and the action we took in the budget gives our schools the tools and resources to best help homeless students,” said Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento). “These actions are sound policies to addressing homelessness among students across our state.”
“As the former Chair of the Homeless Youth Taskforce in San Bernardino County, I expanded efforts to identify homeless youth and bring services to those in need, but we still have a lot of work to do. In the Inland Empire we’ve seen the homeless population increase for two years in a row. This bill will assist schools by providing them the resources and technical support they need to fight homelessness,” Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D–Highland).
Last year, Assemblywoman Luz Rivas’ office convened a roundtable discussion that included the California Department of Housing and Community Development, California Department of Education, Department of Social Services, Los Angeles County, the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council, and advocates throughout the state.
Through this discussion, the Assemblywoman learned that according to a 2017 federal Point-in-Time count, there are an estimated 21,522 homeless families with children and 15,458 unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness in California which is below the state’s estimates. The Assemblywoman discovered there was a significant lack of state oversight of the California’s 1,300 liaisons who are also struggling to identify homeless students because they lacked the technical assistance they need to help these children succeed.
Assemblywoman Rivas proudly represents the 39th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Arleta, Lake View Terrace, Granada Hills, Mission Hills, North Hollywood, Pacoima, Sun Valley, Sunland-Tujunga, Sylmar, and San Fernando.
Judy Yee, Judy.Yee@asm.ca.gov, 916.319.2039