Newsom Throws Billions at Homelessness Crisis Without “Clear Plan”

    Despite earmarking $12 billion to tackle homelessness in the recent state budget, Newsom is still asking the federal government for help, and it is unclear whether any of his efforts made an impact.

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    Governor Gavin Newsom has struck a hawkish tone of late on the homelessness crisis in California, telling the Los Angeles Times that the current situation is “not acceptable.”

    In the same interview, however, Newsom called on the federal government to step in and help solve the problem, acknowledging that California will need “a massive intervention of support” before anything can change.

    The issue is one which threatens to upend the political career of the embattled Governor Newsom, who is caught in a tight race to hold his seat in the September 14 recall election. A recent Emerson College poll found that homelessness is a top issue for California voters, and that the majority of Californians – 52% – rank Newsom’s handling of the homelessness crisis as poor.

    In the most recent state budget, $12 billion was allocated for solving the homelessness crisis. This comes on top of billions already spent by the state in recent years; these dollars have gone to initiatives such as Project Homekey, which aims to repurpose old properties as residences for the homeless.

    However, it is not entirely clear whether this funding is doing any good.

    A recent investigation by Voice of OC found that, while the recipients of homelessness funding are easily traceable, the actual success rates of these programs are often difficult to track. In addition, a review of the state’s most recent homelessness budget by the California Legislative Analyst’s office found that the Newsom administration’s lofty goals “do not lay out (a) clear plan or objectives.”

    California has the highest rate of homelessness in the nation. Over 160,000 Californians are homeless, or more than a quarter of the entire homeless population of the United States. Big cities suffer the most: in Los Angeles County alone, there are more than 60,000 homeless.

    Furthermore, the problem is getting worse with time, not better. Even before the start of the pandemic the homelessness rate was skyrocketing, with a 7% increase between January 2019 and January 2020.

    While the efficacy of state efforts remains an open question, it is clear that California has a long way to go before the vast, sprawling homeless encampments that have become a feature of our cities in recent years start to dissipate.

    SoCal Daily Pulse

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