A new report from the California State Auditor finds the state has spent $24 billion on homelessness since 2018, only to see things get worse, and dings the state for not keeping track of whether much of this money is even accomplishing anything.

Here’s a stunning factoid from a new state report about California homelessness: According to a  CalMatters summary of the report, the state spends about $50,000 a year on each unhoused resident. Well jeez, if you just gave these people $50,000 directly, wouldn’t the majority of them be vastly more effective at keeping a roof over their head than is the State of California bureaucracy? It’s a fair question!  

That State of California bureaucracy is the target of a new report from the State Auditor that finds the state has spent $24 billion trying to solve homelessness since 2018, but is not keeping track of whether the programs actually work, as NBC Bay Area reports. And as seen below, despite the massive $24 billion investment, the California homelessness rate just keeps getting higher and higher.

Image: Auditor.CA.gov

“This report concludes that the State must do more to assess the cost-effectiveness of its homelessness programs,” California State Auditor Grant Parks says in the full report. “Another significant gap in the State’s ability to assess programs’ effectiveness is that it does not have a consistent method for gathering information on the costs and outcomes for individual programs.”

The audit tracked five different programs. Two of them actually scored quite well, and those are the two that actually tracked whether the people stayed housed. One of them is Project Homekey, which basically just puts unhoused people in hotel rooms. Another is the Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention (HHAP) program, which provides funding to already-housed people who are at risk of becoming homeless.

But the three other programs assessed — State Rental Assistance Program (SRAP), Encampment Resolution Funding (ERF), and the CalWORKs Housing Support Program — have no method of evaluating whether they are successful, but just keep raking in the billions.

“California is facing a concerning paradox: despite an exorbitant amount of dollars spent, the state’s homeless population is not slowing down,” state Senator Roger Niello said in a statement to NBC Bay Area. “These audit results are a wake-up call for a shift toward solutions that prioritize self-sufficiency and cost effectiveness.”

Gavin Newsom’s latest salvo in his fight on homelessness is his “Treatment Not Tents” Prop 1 effort that voters just barely approved last month. It’s a $6.4 billion mental health bond whose gist is that it can compel people into treatment and shelter. But as with many of Newsom’s homelessness prevention programs, it’s an awfully large amount of money going toward an effort whose early results show it’s serving few people and barely making a difference.

Related: SF Does Not Have Highest Homelessness Rate In California — We’re No. 3 [SFist]

Image: Joe Kukura, SFist