Gov. Gavin Newsom’s May Revise budget proposes an additional $650 million in spending on the state’s homeless, bring the grand total to $1 billion “to fight California’s homelessness crisis.” Newsom’s press release said, “The budget would increase emergency aid for local jurisdictions, make money available to cities and counties directly and fund permanent supportive housing or innovative approaches like motel and hotel conversions.”
Residents of California’s largest cities are experiencing huge homeless populations with derelict RVs with raw sewage leaking, illegal camps in parks and on streets, human vomit, urine and defecation on city sidewalks and in the doorways of businesses, used needles strewn about, homeless sleeping in doorways and bushes, confrontations, sexual deviancy, and physical attacks.
In Oakland, CA Tuesday, 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.”
The announcement came a few days after San Francisco Bay Area counties released their homeless point-in-time figures showing significant increases in their homeless populations.
Point-in-time homeless counts are mandated every two years by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and impact the federal funds going to the state and counties. The media claims “the results have strong influence on local spending and policy decisions.” I’ve spoken to police assigned to deal with homeless populations who say the counts are inaccurate at best because there is no way to really count the homeless. They say (as do others involved) that cities and counties do not want to eradicate homelessness… because the federal funding would dry up.
Mayor of Sacramento
“The growing problem of homelessness is nothing less than a humanitarian, public health, safety and economic crisis facing California,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg.
Fresh from the State Legislature, in 2016, as Sacramento’s new Mayor, former State Senator Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, announced his plans for making homelessness in Sacramento his priority, through more spending.
At one point in 2016, the Sacramento City Council unanimously authorized spending $300,000 on taxpayer-funded portable toilet trailers, June through December 2016. The City also hired two full-time employees to serve as “attendants” for the three toilet stalls, all air-conditioned, for the homeless, at a cost to the taxpayer of $11.00 per flush.
The homeless now camp at Sacramento City Hall at night, sans toilet stalls.
Recently, downtown Sacramento residents flooded Mayor Steinberg’s email inbox with letters telling of a homeless man who had been seen by many masturbating next to someone’s home, surrounded by a pile of pornographic magazines. The police were called, and he was arrested. But because indecent exposure is now only a misdemeanor, he was let out of jail hours later, and failed to show up for his follow up hearing. (CBS 13 Sacramento did a story on this)
Residents were livid as this took place blocks from an elementary school in broad daylight, and next to a home. He was seen several times in the following days with his pants down, exposing himself. Anyone else would have been arrested as a sex offender. Residents still want to know why police did not keep the guy locked up under sex offender guidelines.
Why a Commission?
“The Governor announced the new Task Force after touring a hotel conversion site in downtown Oakland that is now the Henry Robinson Multi-Service Center transitional housing facility,” the press release said. “Standing alongside Mayor Steinberg, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly, the Governor met with formerly homeless individuals and underscored the importance of state-local partnerships to combat homelessness.”
“No Californian can say homelessness is someone else’s problem – it affects us all,” said Governor Newsom. “Homelessness is a matter of statewide concern, but solutions will come from the local level. Mayors, county supervisors and city councils around the state are working hard to reduce homelessness and its underlying causes. We’ll be watching these local and regional solutions closely, to lend a hand and help them scale.”
Notably, “The Task Force will deliver at least one annual report to the Governor on the work it performed to guide the creation of joint regional plans to address homelessness, including highlighting best practices and model programs at the local level.”
The Governor and Mayors of the largest cities all say that the burden of solving the city’s street problems is everyone’s responsibility. “The responsibility is with everyone,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a San Francisco Chronicle article about homeless pooping all over the city. “People shouldn’t be comfortable throwing their trash on the ground,” she said, as if everyone does this, and not just the homeless.
The Governor did not post any photos of Oakland and his meeting, which was probably a good idea. Oakland is so overrun with homeless, trash, filth, rats and drug garbage, it, along with San Francisco, was named in a United Nations report on homeless encampments.
Just last year a United Nations expert on housing singled out Oakland and San Francisco in a report as the only two U.S. cities which are part of a “global scandal,” saying the homeless encampments are “cruel and inhumane,” after visiting the Bay Area in January, KTVU Fox reported. In the same report the Special Rapporteur says “residents of informal settlements affirm humanity in the most inhumane circumstances. The Special Rapporteur has visited many informal settlements in the global North and South. She has found the severity of the living conditions and the failure of States to respond to them profoundly disturbing.” And, “In a large informal settlement in Mumbai, India, the Rapporteur saw a rodent infestation caused by a lack of waste removal.”
With rat infestations living in homeless encampments and within large piles of trash, just as the UN housing expert saw in Mumbai, this is also the case in California’s largest cities, as this NBC Los Angeles report shows.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has authorized the state to spend $1 billion, and LA county and city governments collectively spend more than $1 billion annually on the costs of dealing with the growing homeless population. Thus far, spending billions on the homeless in California has largely increased the population to 134,000 homeless people, amounting to one-quarter of the nation’s total homeless population.