Gov. Newsom has chosen a Fresno leader for his homeless taskforce. Here are her goals

Fresno City Councilmember Esmeralda Soria landed a spot on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s homeless task force, where she hopes to highlight the challenges for Fresno’s homeless population that may be different than the rest of the state.

The governor made the announcement Tuesday following a $1 billion investment to fight homelessness in California’s 2019-20 budget.

The task force will examine best practices in prevention, diversion and intervention, plus guide local governments as they develop regional plans to fight homelessness.

Soria was part of the governor’s transition team and has kept in touch with his office, which reached out to her a few months ago about being on the task force, she said.

She hopes to secure funding to address homeless issues in Fresno and the Central Valley.

“We have unique challenges that may not be the same as the Bay Area and Southern California. We have to take into account our geography and climate when we’re dealing with the homeless population,” she said.

“Our group will be able to have a conversation about what are the things we should be funding and where should these resources go beyond temporary shelters.”

Soria, 38, joins Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Arcata City Councilmember Sofia Pereira, among others, on the task force.

“It’s time we stop talking about the homelessness crisis and start acting,” Newsom said during his announcement.

“This is a crisis that affects all of California – from rural and urban communities to coastal and inland cities. We need to work collectively to source local solutions from mayors, county supervisors and city councils and implement those solutions at scale statewide.”

Soria last week announced she will run run to represent California’s 16th Congressional District, against fellow Democrat, incumbent Rep. Jim Costa.

The task force will hold its first of three regional convenings in August in the Central Valley. Details will be announced closer to the date.

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Brianna Calix covers politics and investigations for The Bee, where she works to hold public officials accountable and shine a light on issues that deeply affect residents’ lives. She previously worked for The Bee’s sister paper, the Merced Sun-Star, and earned her bachelor’s degree from Fresno State.