Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the state would provide “emergency aid to local governments” and implement emergency protective measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among the homeless living on California streets.
“People experiencing homelessness are among the most vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19,” said Gov. Newsom. “California is deploying massive resources to get these vulnerable residents safely into shelter, removing regulatory barriers and securing trailers and hotels to provide immediate housing options for those most at risk. Helping these residents is critical to protecting public health, flattening the curve and slowing the spread of COVID-19.”
Newsom directed the first allocation of the $500 million in emergency funding recently authorized by the Legislature for COVID-19 related activities – $150 million for local emergency homelessness actions. To deploy this first funding allocation, the state will provide:
- $100 million directly to local governments, for shelter support and emergency housing to address COVID-19 among the homeless population, and
- $50 million to purchase travel trailers and lease rooms in hotels, motels, and other facilities in partnership with counties and cities to provide immediate isolation placements throughout the state for homeless individuals.
Is the governor spending emergency federal funding on hotels for the homeless? It’s hard to tell where the money is coming from, except is the state already had the funding, why wasn’t it allocated last year for the homeless epidemic, or the year before? If the Democrats in Congress can lard up the stimulus bill, it’s not a stretch to wonder if Gov. Newsom is using federal funds instead of money from the state’s budget for the homeless.
A recent Sacramento Bee editorial on Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state’s homeless epidemic addresses that the homeless crisis was already a health crisis long before the coronavirus crisis, yet the editorial didn’t have a single word about treating the homeless with mental illness – which is the vast majority of them. The editors only talked about people being evicted, which is extremely misleading.
As Dr. Drew continues to point out, California’s homeless of more than 160,000+ is not an economic problem, otherwise the millions of illegal immigrants would be on the street, and they aren’t.
The Newsom administration has repeatedly claimed the explosion of drug-addicted, mentally ill people on the street is a housing shortage and housing affordability problem. Housing may be one part of the problem, but lack of housing is not at the root of the hundreds of thousands of drug-addicted mentally ill people living on city streets, in public parks, along rivers and parkways and in tent cities; state and local policies are.
Outbreaks of disease and viruses are common among the homeless population. San Diego battled a two-year-long hepatitis A outbreak that started in a homeless encampment and killed 20 people, sickening almost 600 others, Fox News reported. “In 2019, a typhus outbreak hit Los Angeles’ notorious Skid Row, while the homeless living in Santa Monica dealt with a scourge of trench fever, contracted from body lice.”
Gov. Newsom announced during a recent news conference that the state would be prioritizing the homeless as a vulnerable population. However, the homeless population was not the subject to the Governor’s shelter in place order – it’s the state’s productive residents who are under lockdown.
Mayors London Breed of San Francisco, Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, and Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento have all ordered residents to remain in their homes, as have many counties. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and the city council installed five hand washing stations in the heart of Sacramento’s homeless area… hand washing stations, not porta-potties. The hand washing stations are an odd choice for people who poop on the sidewalk. Wipes might have been more practical and actually used.
As for the Governor leveraging federal funds for the coronavirus crisis and using some of the money for homeless, HUD Secretary Ben Carson has been very explicit about the requirements for any money. Dr. Carson, a critic of the Housing First policy of the Obama administration, said some of the federal aid might come in the form of medical services, but has encouraged California to look inward at some of our policies creating the homeless crisis.
The Governor throwing $100 million to the local Mayors for their homeless programs – trailers, hotel beds, recreation center beds – isn’t necessarily the only answer. He’s going to find out is that you can have all the beds in the world, but if you’re not dealing with all the mental health and co-addiction problems, often with involuntary treatment protocols, it won’t fix the problem.
Yet Mayors and the Governor are already claiming that had they not issued these orders, the coronavirus would have been much worse. The path not taken is not known, but politicians want you to believe that it would have been worse.
Dr. Drew Pinsky continues to ask when will enough be enough with three homeless people a day dying on the streets of Los Angeles. In Sacramento, he said one homeless person a day is dying. “It’s a slow genocide,” he said during his speech at a Sacramento event in January. “So, what’s the body count need to be before you make a change.”
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