SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – California Gov. Gavin Newsom is creating a task force on homelessness as the state grapples with a housing crisis.

The Democratic governor made the announcement in Oakland, where county officials reported last week that the number of people experiencing homelessness increased 43 percent over the last two years.

Newsom described homelessness as an epidemic of statewide concern but says it will be best addressed at the local level.

The governor says the task force will work with local governments to develop regional plans for addressing homelessness.

He tapped Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to lead the group.

Newsom is also proposing that the state increase spending on homelessness, calling for $1 billion in next year’s budget to address the issue.

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