Sacramento Democrats and Governor Gavin Newsom have thrown $17 billion at the homeless crisis over the past four years, yet the problem has only gotten worse. California is home to 12% of the nation’s population but has 28% of the nation’s homeless and 47% of the nation’s unsheltered homeless. California Senate and Assembly Republicans are determined to put a stop to this, and get people the treatment they need.
At a press conference at the Capitol Wednesday, Senate and Assembly Republican lawmakers introduced “ACT on Homelessness (Accountability, Compassion and Treatment),” a multi-faceted legislative package to address homelessness where and how it will make a difference.
Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher led the press conference, and illustrated Republicans’ proposals:
“’ACT’ stands for Accountability, Compassion and Treatment.”
“Accountability for government programs to deliver results, not just spend money; shelter programs to get people off the streets and out of encampments; treatment, compelled, if necessary, for people struggling with mental illness and drug addiction; as well as prevention efforts for those most vulnerable to falling into homelessness.
“What Democrats have done over the last decade just is not working. It’s an enablement strategy. Ours is an empowerment strategy, to give people the tools and the resources to get off of these streets.
“The Democratic policies keep those people on the street.
“Their answer to homelessness, as it seems to be their answer to everything, is to just throw more money at the problem.
“Seventeen billion dollars spent over the last four years and the problem is clearly worse. There are more encampments, not less.”
“Governor Newsom is a big fan of splashy rollouts and new programs that he promises meet the moment for the issue of the day,” Gallagher said. “But you can’t just show up and pick up some trash and then declare mission accomplished.”
The Republicans introduced 17 new bills and proposals designed to ensure results.
“As you know, up until now Governor Newsom has had a ‘My way or the highway’ approach to homelessness,” said Sen. Brian Jones (R-Santee). “And that’s just what has occurred, more and more homeless encampments popping up on highways.”
Jones said he contacted the Governor’s Office three years ago when Gov. Newsom appointed his two “Homeless Czars” – Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and then-Los Angeles Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas – and offered to help. Jones said he never got a call back from any of them.
In May 2019, the Globe reported, “Rather than consult with successful non-profit organizations and church groups in the business of helping to change the lives of people on the street, Governor Gavin Newsom announced regional leaders and ‘statewide experts’ who will advise his administration on ‘solutions to address the state’s homelessness epidemic.’”
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. Was this because Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas have been so effective in eradicating homelessness in their cities?
The initial buzz around the task force disappeared when nothing was accomplished.
“Republicans are proposing a multi-pronged approach to address the root of the homeless crisis and actually help people get their lives back. Continuing on the road we are on is more of a dead-end than a path to success,” said Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita).
“Jamie” spoke at the press conference about her dangerous drug addiction, which eventually landed her in jail, pregnant, with one daughter she had to leave behind. “You can’t put drugs in your system and expect people to make good decisions,” she said, emphasizing that the homeless need treatment, and not just the keys to a hotel room or apartment. Jamie recovered through a treatment program which taught life skills, and went into transitional living – 13 years ago.
These are some of the proposed bills and actions:
SB 1353 by Sen. Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita): This proposal requires the governor to report annually to the Legislature and post to a publicly available dashboard on the internet all information and efforts the state and its local governments have undertaken to reduce homelessness in California, including federal funding for state and local programs. And SB 1353 requires local governments to report to the state annually all expenditures on homelessness programs and efforts, such as street clean up, law enforcement, shelters, and medical, mental health and substance abuse treatment.
Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Granite Bay) proposes requesting that the State Auditor review the outcomes of state expenditures on homelessness and track how effectively programs are addressing the problem. Enhance trust with the public that state taxpayer funds for homelessness are being used efficiently because the homeless problem is growing under Democrat governance and does a disservice to the homeless population, business, and the taxpaying public.
AB 2951 by Assemblywoman Suzette Martinez Valladares (R-Santa Clarita): Protects places of worship that provide temporary shelter and other services to the homeless from the threat of expensive lawsuits in order to help them to help those in need. Expands shelter opportunities for the homeless and reduces the burden on government.
SB 1303 by Sen. Brian Jones (R-Santee) and AB 2020 by Gallagher propose to reform the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act. SB 1303 and AB 2020 would reduce barriers to placing individuals incapable of caring for themselves into an LPS conservatorship or similar program. Reforming LPS will help get persons experiencing homelessness with serious mental illness (SMI) and/or substance use disorder (SUD) the help they need, including treatment and stable shelter. This will have the collateral benefit of reducing the number of people living on the street.
SB 1427 by Sen. Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh (R-Yucaipa): This proposal would provide grant funding for homeless courts, funds for expanded treatment options for criminal defendants in mental health court, and reentry planning for jail inmates at risk of becoming homeless upon release. Expansion of mental health and homeless courts, coupled with reentry planning for jail inmates at risk of becoming homeless upon release, can promote rehabilitation and housing stability and give law enforcement and judges additional tools to reduce crime committed by the homeless.
SB 1484 by Sen. Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield): Creates a “pathway to employment” through incentive and training programs that give at-risk youth greater opportunity to receive specialized job training and more easily enter the workforce. Helps keep vulnerable youth populations from entering the criminal justice system, allows them to escape the cycle of poverty and homelessness, enables them to be productive members of our communities, and provides businesses and the state with a well-trained workforce.
The Republican reforms included in the ACT on Homelessness package ensure resources are not wasted on failing programs, assistance is available to those who need it, and treatments are offered for substance abuse and mental health.
“We have been wrestling with this problem for years, and it always seems to get worse,” said Sen. Patricia C. Bates (R-Laguna Niguel). “The ACT on Homelessness package will allow us to implement a statewide effort to better coordinate existing programs. Our legislative package puts forward holistic policy proposals that provide necessary oversight, accountability, transparency, treatment and compassion. To be clear, we still believe Governor Newsom should call for a special session, as we requested in January, so this crisis receives the attention and focus it deserves.”
“California’s homelessness crisis continues to worsen even though there are known solutions,” said Assemblywoman Suzette Martinez Valladares (R-Santa Clarita). “This is not business as usual, it is a full blown disaster that impacts the lives of every single Californian. My colleagues and I have introduced significant and meaningful reforms to fight this crisis head on. The Governor needs to join with us in the Legislature to remove regulatory hurdles, move people out of the dangerous and unhealthy street conditions and into shelter, and deliver treatment and other resources to those who need it. Californians are tired of waiting for real solutions to this constantly growing problem.”
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