Gavin Newsom’s new homeless plan calls for more spending, shelters on state property

Gavin Newsom’s new homeless plan calls for more spending, shelters on state property

California Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to direct $750 million from the state’s upcoming budget to help homeless people get off the streets, his office announced Wednesday morning.

Also on Wednesday, Newsom plans to sign an executive order directing state departments to identify state property that can be used for emergency shelters and designate 100 trailers in California’s fleet for temporary housing and health care services. The executive order will also establish a homelessness “strike team.”

“Homelessness is a national crisis, one that’s spreading across the West Coast and cities across the country,” Newsom said in a statement. “The state of California is treating it as a real emergency.”

Newsom’s announcement comes ahead of his full 2020-21 state budget proposal, which he is expected to unveil later this week, and as he faces immense pressure to address homelessness.

California had significant increases in its homeless population in 2018, outpacing the rest of the country, according to a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Overall, California saw an increase of about 21,000 homeless people from January 2018 to January 2019, bringing the state’s total homeless population to about 151,000.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized Newsom and other California leaders for failing to fix the problem and has threatened federal intervention.

Reducing the state’s homelessness population has been a top policy priority for Newsom and one of his most stubborn problems. In the current state budget, he and lawmakers directed $650 million to help local governments address homelessness.

The additional infusion of $750 million Newsom is proposing could be used to pay rent for homeless people, build housing for them and improve shelters. The money would come from one-time surplus funds projected for the upcoming fiscal year, Newsom’s office said.

California’s long recovery from the Great Recession gives Newsom some financial flexibility. The state is expected to have about $19 billion in reserve accounts by the end of June, and the Legislative Analyst’s Office is projecting California will bring in another $7 billion surplus for the 2020-21 budget year.

Newsom’s full budget proposal is due Friday and will kick off months of negotiations with lawmakers. They must pass a budget deal by June 15, in time for the start of the next fiscal year in July.

The governor also wants to steer more money to Medi-Cal, the state’s health care program for low-income people, to expand the program to include housing assistance for homeless people. The governor wants to improve Medi-Cal’s mental health services, which would also help homeless people, his office said.

In addition, Newsom is calling for a study of the causes of homelessness in California overseen by the state’s Health and Human Services Agency in collaboration with University of California researchers.

Newsom’s office plans to measure how well local governments are working to get people off the streets and require local governments to report their progress to access state homelessness money, his office said.

Newsom’s office also said he aims to consider changing Proposition 63 to make sure the money it generates helps homeless people. Voters passed the ballot measure in 2004 to fund mental health services by levying a 1 percent tax on people with incomes over $1 million.

Last year, Newsom appointed Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to lead an advisory council to guide his homeless policy. He credited the council’s work for informing the actions and proposals he announced Wednesday.

By Sophia Bollag, The Sacramento Bee

McClatchy’s Kate Irby contributed to this report.

Bay Area NewsCaliforniaU.S.

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Private vehicles were banned from much of Market Street in January 2020, causing bike ridership on the street to increase by 25 percent and transit efficiency by as much as 12 percent. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA board approves new Better Market Street legislation

Advocates say traffic safety improvements don’t go far enough to make up for lost bikeway

San Francisco City Hall is lit in gold and amber to remember victims as part of a national Memorial to Lives Lost to COVID-19 on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
San Francisco joins national COVID memorial ceremony

San Francisco took part Tuesday in the first national Memorial to Lives… Continue reading

The San Francisco Police Department has cancelled discretionary days off and will have extra officers on duty for Inauguration Day, Chief Bill Scott said Tuesday. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF ‘prepared for anything’ ahead of inauguration, but no protests expected

Authorities boosting police staffing, security at City Hall

Dr. Grant Colfax, Director of the SF Department of Public Health, said Tuesday that The City had received only a fraction of the COVID vaccine doses it requested this week. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Unpredictable supplies leave SF running low on COVID vaccine

Reported reactions to Moderna shots prompt hold on 8,000 doses

The T Third Street train will resume service on Saturday, and will be joined by a new express route from the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Bayview-Hunters Point residents get first direct express bus to downtown

New Muni route to launch alongside the return of the T-Third train

Most Read