‘$1 billion to fight homelessness, including $750 million for this new Fund, and a major new investment to reform Medi-Cal.’ How much spending billions of dollars before California residents will see results?
“The State of California is treating homelessness as a real emergency – because it is one,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a press statement Wednesday announcing his latest Executive Order “to jump-start new homeless fund.”
Newsom says the state is “using every tool in the toolbox – from proposing a massive new infusion of state dollars in the budget that goes directly to homeless individuals’ emergency housing and treatment programs, to building short-term emergency housing on vacant state-owned land.”
Good. Most Californians hope this actually is what takes place.
In his press statement, Newsom highlights his 2020-21 Governor’s Budget “with more than $1 billion to fight homelessness, including $750 million for this new Fund, and a major new investment to reform Medi-Cal so that health providers transform health care to deliver integrated physical and behavioral health.”
“Investment” to reform Medi-Cal is more spending on Medi-Cal. How much spending billions of dollars before California residents will see results?
Newsom’s Executive order “requires state agencies to take urgent and immediate action by January 31, 2020 to make available state properties and facilities to rapidly increase housing and shelter options.”
However, this also says it “Immediately makes available a supply of 100 camp trailers that can be used as temporary housing.”
There are close to 200,000 homeless vagrants living on California streets.
However, Newsom gives credit to his Council of Regional Homeless Advisors: “Many of the new proposals have been inspired by the work of Governor Newsom’s Council of Regional Homeless Advisors, co-chaired by Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas of Los Angeles County,” the press statement said. “The Governor appreciates the Council’s commitment to proposing recommendations to address the homelessness crisis and looks forward to reviewing their full report in the coming weeks.”
What? “Commitment to proposing recommendations to address the homelessness crisis?” This means Mayor Steinberg and Los Angeles Supervisor Ridley-Thomas are committed to coming up with suggestions to address the homeless crisis.
In May, Gov. Newsom announced the formation of the Homeless and Supportive Housing Advisory Task Force and its co-chairs, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, “two city leaders from cities ravaged by homelessness, filth, and disease,” California Globe reported. “It’s time we stop talking about the homelessness crisis and start acting,” said Governor Newsom in the press statement announcing the task force.
“In his first year in office, Governor Newsom fast-tracked shelter construction by removing regulatory barriers and streamlining Caltrans property availability,” Newsom’s statement said.
But Newsom’s Executive Order also says, “Identify state-owned land to temporarily house the homeless. The Governor will task the Department of General Services with identifying properties from the digitized inventory of excess state lands created by EO N-06-19 that can be used by local partners, including counties, cities, or non-profit agencies, on a short-term emergency basis to house individuals who are homeless, so long as such usage does not delay affordable housing development.”
How difficult can identifying state-owned land be?
Another area Newsom’s executive order addresses is “Root Causes of California Homelessness Study.”
I thought that’s what his Council of Regional Homeless Advisors were supposed to do. “The California Health and Human Services Agency, alongside academic researchers at UCSF and CA Policy Lab, are conducting a comprehensive, data-driven study to better understand the root causes of homelessness and more fully understand the situation in California. This will be a first-in-the-state interview survey that will look to better understand the needs of individuals who are experiencing homelessness across the state.”
The State of California and Governor are still talking about the root of the homeless problem, and asking for ideas on what can be done.
Most California residents, if asked, could easily and quickly offer up real-world suggestions, and would willingly assist in the process, as long as they believed the Governor was sincere. But that’s difficult when “Governor Newsom has also released hundreds of millions of dollars in State Emergency Homeless Aid and issued a challenge for cities and counties to partner with the state on immediate impact solutions to tackle homelessness.”
I, 2018, I interviewed Dr. Ben Carson, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary, about HUD’s approach to decreasing homelessness in cities throughout the country. Housing is one big problem in California, but he said that California is not approaching the homeless and transient problem correctly by allowing the massive tent cities to flourish; he said it costs cities less to get the homeless off the street than to deal with filthy homeless encampments and the ensuing health and disease concerns. Dr. Carson is also a believer in not making the homeless too comfortable. “Compassion means not giving people ‘a comfortable setting that would make somebody want to say: ‘I’ll just stay here. They will take care of me,’” Carson told the New York Times last year.
We also discussed the Haven For Hope, in San Antonio, Texas, a model holistic homelessness program using public and private funds, which addresses all of the issues surrounding homelessness. Haven for Hope, which is listed and rated on Charity Navigator and Guidestar, provides short-term residential housing on-campus, substance abuse, mental health treatment, employment services, education services, life-skills training, legal services, childcare, health care, even an animal kennel, and housing. But they require accountability, and getting off drugs and alcohol.
Hundreds of millions of dollars in California State Emergency Homeless Aid… no one can say where the money is going.