Federal disaster funding should go toward fighting homelessness, California congressman proposes

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) — “It recognizes we’re in a crisis. It says this is an emergency,” said Rep. Josh Harder (D-California).

California Congressman Harder wants money that’s been allocated for natural disasters like wildfires to be freed up instead to fight homelessness.

“We bring the full might of the federal government to actually help wildfire victims. Shouldn’t we be doing the same thing for the hundreds of thousands of homeless?” he said.

His bill would allow governors to declare a homeless emergency in their state and get access to emergency FEMA funds for things like housing, mental health or substance abuse programs.

But opponents say that won’t address the root of the crisis.

“Why is it so much worse in California than anywhere else? Why is it so much worse in certain cities than others,” said Rep. Kevin McCarthy. 

House GOP Leader McCarthy says Harder’s bill doesn’t guarantee the money will be used effectively.

“The federal government could help with land and others, which we are doing. The difficulty is the state laws holding us back,” McCarthy said.

Joel Griffith with the heritage foundation agrees. 

He says California’s environmental regulations limit affordable housing.

“Throwing billions of dollars at this and treating it like a natural disaster, that’s not going to resolve those problems. That is a state failure,” Griffith said.

But harder says it’s time Congress treat the homeless crisis with urgency and federal government and states like California — need to work together. 

“Gavin Newsom and Donald Trump say they care about the homeless problem. I believe them, but let’s get to work,” Harder said.

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