Newsom calls for record $ 12 billion to fight homelessness in California – Courthouse News Service


Promising a more aggressive approach, Newsom said the massive sum will create nearly 50,000 new homes and take families off the streets of California for good.

Speaking to reporters at a renovated San Diego hotel that is now home to dozens of former homeless people, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced plans to spend $ 12 billion to address the homeless crisis. shelter in the Golden State.

(CN) – As budget negotiations intensify, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday proposed withdrawing $ 12 billion from the state’s burgeoning surplus to create nearly 50,000 new homes for residents. people living on the streets.

From a renovated San Diego hotel now occupied by dozens of once homeless people, Newsom has recognized that homelessness remains one of California’s biggest problems and boldly asserted that money “will end homelessness. -family shelter ”over the next five years.

The massive sum is the next major piece of Newsom’s self-proclaimed “California Return Plan,” a $ 100 billion spending plan he presents in a piecemeal fashion this week to lawmakers and taxpayers. If approved, the $ 12 billion would be the largest investment to end homelessness in the state’s history.

“What is happening on our streets and sidewalks is unacceptable; no one should be happy about it, ”Newsom said at a press conference. “The status quo must change and we will change our approach.”

Under the plan, to be included in the governor’s oversized revised budget proposal scheduled for Friday, California would spend $ 8.75 billion to “unlock” 46,000 housing units. The money is essentially based on two projects implemented during the Covid-19 pandemic in which the state reimburses local agencies for obtaining temporary motel rooms or converting vacant properties into affordable housing.

Called Project Roomkey and Homekey, Newsom’s office says contingency plans provided shelter to 36,000 Californians and created 6,000 permanent homes during the pandemic.

“In one year, these two programs have done more to tackle homelessness and the affordable housing crisis than anything that has been done in decades, and has since become a national model,” his office said Monday in a statement. note to reporters.

Despite bold claims from the press office of a politician struggling to keep his job, homelessness has actually worsened in California since Newsom took office.

According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, between 2019 and 2020, homelessness in California increased 6.8%. Worse yet, California now has more than half of all homeless people in the United States, with an estimated 113,000 homeless residents.

The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty says the main causes of homelessness are lack of affordable housing, unemployment, mental illness, poverty and substance abuse.

Tents, shelters and personal effects line a street near downtown Los Angeles. (News photo of the courthouse / Nathan Solis)

In addition to the glaring statistics, Newsom and the Legislative Assembly’s homeless strategy have come under fire from a suspicious state regulator and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Earlier this year, State Auditor Elaine Howle tore up the approach for being “disjointed” and said Newsom’s Homeless Funding and Coordination Council was a failure.

Newsom has campaigned to tackle homelessness and correct the state’s housing shortage, but the two continue to hit the Golden State. On Tuesday, he made it clear that he believed the solution to getting people off the streets and keeping them off the streets was to spend record amounts of taxpayer dollars.

Distributed globally among California’s estimated uninhabited population of 161,000 people, the flat rate amounts to more than $ 74,000 per homeless resident. Newsom said the $ 12 billion would be spent over two years and could potentially provide more than 300,000 people with shelter or rent stability.

Unlike previous approaches, Newsom says its new proposal will be laden with benchmarks and parameters that cities will have to meet. He promised a more aggressive approach in the future in terms of housing construction and the fight against homelessness.

“As governor, I really want to do something. I don’t want to talk about it for a decade, ”Newsom continued.

Tuesday’s proposal also emphasizes preventing the problem, committing $ 3.7 billion to homelessness prevention and housing support. The final coin is $ 1.5 billion to clean up roads and convert public spaces.

The $ 12 billion is probably a telling amount for most Californians, but it falls short of recent demands made by local and state Democratic officials.

The so-called “Coalition of Big City Mayors” made up of the heads of the state’s largest cities has called for $ 20 billion over five years to end homelessness, while the head of the state Senate presented a similar $ 20 billion plan.

Appearing with Newsom on Tuesday, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria applauded Newsom’s budget proposal.

“They heard us,” said the newly elected Democratic mayor. “Help is on the way and we can actually tackle this urgent crisis.”

But Assembly Member Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, and chairman of the Los Angeles County Special Committee on Homelessness, said he and other lawmakers would continue to claim the $ 20 billion over. five years.

“The governor has heard our call for urgent action. Ending homelessness requires a radical change in our approaches, a sense of urgency and irreproachable responsibility. $ 12 billion over two years is a big step in the right direction, but we need a long-term investment to end homelessness, ”Santiago said in a statement following the announcement of Newsom.

Newsom’s budget maneuvers come as he actively campaigns against a likely recall election slated for the fall.

While supporters of the recall have officially submitted enough signatures to trigger an election to be determined statewide, a new poll predicts that Newsom will retain his post.

According to a poll released Tuesday by the University of California at Berkeley, only 36% of likely voters say they support the first governor’s recall. He also found lukewarm support for Republicans actively participating in the recall, such as Olympic gold medalist Caitlyn Jenner (6%), former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer (22%) and businessman. John Cox (22%).

As with Monday’s proposal to send $ 600 stimulus checks to nearly 80% of all California taxpayers, Newsom says the state’s newly acquired $ 75 billion surplus will fund the anti-government strategy. homelessness. Both proposals and its entire $ 100 billion return plan require majority approval in the Legislature, which is due to pass a final budget by June 15.

“There is no greater manifestation of our failure as a society at large, or as a state more specifically, than homelessness, and this is what has led to a strategy to do something radically different, ”Newsom said.

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