California’s homeless population soared at least 16% last year and has been a focal point for Gov. Gavin Newsom since he came into office. Many of Newsom’s proposals were aimed at cutting red tape and providing faster solutions. “We need more housing, not more delays,” he said. He also focused on the role mental health plays in tandem with homelessness.
The Associated Press: California Governor Makes Homelessness Top Issue In 2020
Tossing aside tradition, California’s governor on Wednesday devoted his biggest platform to a single issue: solving a homelessness crisis that has overwhelmed the nation’s most populous state in an era of unprecedented prosperity. Governors typically use their annual “State of the State” speeches to touch on dozens of priorities because they are guaranteed an audience of lawmakers from both political parties as well as statewide media coverage. (Beam and Thompson, 2/19)
Reuters: California To Make State Buildings Available To House Homeless
“Let’s call it what it is, a disgrace, that the richest state in the richest nation … is failing to properly house, heal and humanely treat so many of its own people,” Newsom said. California’s homeless population soared 16% last year to around 151,000 with a statewide scarcity of affordable housing one of the root causes despite government spending. (2/19)
The New York Times: California Governor Declares Homeless Crisis ‘A Disgrace’
Vulnerable to the charge that the problem has exploded under Democratic rule in California, Mr. Newsom, a former mayor of San Francisco, pleaded with — and at times admonished — legislators to take action. “The hard truth is for too long we’ve ignored this problem,” Mr. Newsom said. “We turned away.” Homelessness has become pervasive in California, from the rural North to the sun-kissed coastal cities, and it has exposed the stark inequality in the state, whose economy would rank as the world’s fifth largest if it were an independent country. (Fuller, 2/19)
Los Angeles Times: California Homelessness Crisis ‘A Disgrace,’ Newsom Says In State Of The State
Careful to say that homelessness cannot be fixed overnight, Newsom nevertheless made ambitious promises to work with state lawmakers to tackle the problem. “I don’t think homelessness can be solved — I know homelessness can be solved,” Newsom told lawmakers. “This is our cause. This is our calling.” The Democratic governor called for all new shelters and supportive housing to be exempted from a key environmental law that has been used to restrict development, similar to a pilot project underway in Los Angeles County. (Willon and Luna, 2/19)
California Healthline: Newsom: To Fix Homelessness, California Must Fix Mental Health
He also raised the controversial issue of involuntary treatment for people with behavioral health problems. While he criticized the historic practice of confining patients with mental illness to asylums, he said the state needs to make it easier for law enforcement, health care providers and families to get people into treatment. ”All within the bounds of deep respect for civil liberties and personal freedoms,” he added. (Bluth, 2/19)
The Hill: California Governor Uses State Of The State To Highlight Homelessness Crisis
The singular focus is notable for Newsom, who rode a Democratic wave to office in the 2018 midterm elections and who had been criticized during his first year for an overly broad agenda that included virtually every pressing issue California faces — a focus on everything that meant prioritizing nothing. But Newsom signaled he, in his second year, would aim to tackle a growing crisis that has been the butt of some of President Trump’s frequent jabs against the most populous state in the country. Newsom said the state would prioritize moving newly homeless people quickly into emergency shelters, which research has showed lowers repeat homelessness. And he said the state would prioritize treatment for the mentally ill who too often end up in tent cities.(Wilson, 2/19)
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