Community in Crisis

Homelessness crisis at center of Governor Newsom’s State of the State address

California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KRON) – California’s homelessness crisis was the center of Governor Newsom’s State of the State address on Wednesday.

Historically, the State of the State has been used to earmark several important issues and accomplishments but in his second State of the State as governor, Gavin Newsom spent his 42-minute long speech solely on homelessness.

“It’s a disgrace the richest state and the richest nation succeeding across so many sectors is falling so far behind to properly house, heal and humanely treat so many of its own people,” Newsom said. 

Governor Newsom put homelessness and its counterparts housing and mental health at the forefront of California’s priorities.

The governor Wednesday called on the state to lower the bar for forced mental health care, saying the current standard is too high and contributing to the state’s crisis. 

“The people of California you know this are demanding BOLD, permanent solutions, anything less is not going to get the job done,” Newsom said.  

While calling for a reform of the millionaire tax money meant for mental health, Newsom also demanded cities and counties who haven’t used the funds to spend it by June 30 or else the state will.

In rapid response to getting the homeless off the street, the governor announced 286 state properties are now available as shelters. 

He also said five more cities and counties from Santa Clara to Riverside are next to get emergency tents and trailers. 

While those are temporary solutions, Newsom urged lawmakers to make way for new permanent housing to tackle the state’s shortage.

“I do believe that 2020 is the year of production,” Assemblymember David Chiu, D-San Francisco, said. 

Democrats are confident that this year is different.

“This is the number one priority, then we have to make room for that.. not just this year but for the coming years,” Assemblymember Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, said. 

Republicans say they wish the governor would’ve addressed more issues.

Some have concerns about the governor’s hyper-focused plan on homelessness and mental health.

“If people are addicted, if they’re on drugs, they don’t have the cognitive ability to say hey i want out, and we see it here and again, is this a statewide intervention by the Governor? Is he going to force people to get help? How does that look like and how do we put that together in a way that people still have their rights?” Assemblymember Whip Devon Mathis, R-Visalia, said. 

The price tag on the governor’s proposed homelessness plan is at $750 million, the final count on how much all of this could cost will be finalized in May.

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