Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg and homeless and animal welfare advocates have jointly announced $10 million in funding for pets of those experiencing homelessness.
The funding announced on Nov. 19, is part of the 2021 California state budget signed into law earlier this year.
“This funding provides vital support for both ends of the leash,” said Hertzberg said.
“While meeting with community advocates here in the Valley about homelessness, I learned that few shelters permitted companion animals, meaning many owners preferred staying on the streets to stay with their pets. It was those meetings that sparked the idea for this grant program and the demand since then has been enormous. Our pets are our family and they deserve services in the same way that we do.”
The $10 million extends the Pet Assistance and Support (PAS) Program, originally established by the state senator in 2019. PAS funds enable qualified homeless shelters to provide shelter, food, and basic veterinary services for pets owned by individuals experiencing homelessness, along with staffing and liability insurance related to providing those services.
An estimated five to 10% of homeless Americans are pet owners.
The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), tasked with overseeing the grant program, received 49 applications requesting approximately $9 million in assistance; some $4.25 million more than was originally available.
The funding is to help fill the unmet need for pet-friendly homeless shelters. The grants typically range between $100,000 and $200,000 and have been mostly utilized to help provide veterinary services.
Hertzberg announced the funding at Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission, a leading nonprofit tackling homelessness in Los Angeles.
“At Hope of the Valley, we recognize the importance of overcoming every obstacle and barrier that prevents someone from leaving the streets and ultimately being permanently housed,” said Ken Craft, CEO of Hope of the Valley.
“Telling someone who is homeless on the street that they must first give up their pet in order to be housed is a non-starter. We are so thankful for Senator Bob Hertzberg’s legislation and funding that provides much-needed resources to care for the needs of pets of the unhoused.”
Homeless pet advocates Best Friends Animal Society was also part of the announcement.
“We are so thrilled that Sen. Hertzberg was able to secure significant state funding so that homeless shelters can provide shelter, food and veterinary services for pets owned by individuals experiencing homelessness,” said Elizabeth Oreck, national manager of Housing Initiatives for Best Friends Animal Society.
“Community-based partnerships are critical to achieving our shared goals of combatting homelessness, caring for our unhoused neighbors and keeping pets with their people.”
The application period for the new PAS funds has not opened yet but organizations can receive a notification of funding availability by signing up for updates from HCD.
More information can be found on the senator’s website at senate.ca.gov/hertzberg.