Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, agreed to release $1 billion in state funds for homelessness that he had tentatively suspended earlier this month, but only if local governments promised to increase the aggressiveness of their plans to reduce the state’s unhoused population.
The Democratic governor claimed that his afternoon meeting with around 100 mayors and local authorities on Friday, both in person and online, was fruitful, with participants coming to a consensus on what needed to be done and being eager to forward their objectives.
Newsom first denied the funding!
In his second term, Newsom, who easily won reelection last month, must demonstrate reductions in the rising number of homeless people, some of whom sleep rough on city sidewalks and beneath overpasses, infuriating even the most liberal voters in the nation’s most populous state.
He shocked the state two weeks ago when he declared that he would withhold $1 billion in funding until cities and counties developed more comprehensive plans, calling the plans that had been submitted “simply unacceptable” because they would reduce the state’s homeless population by a combined 2% over the following four years.
Officials urged Newsom to reinstate the funding
Mayors, county officials, many of whom are Democrats, and proponents of affordable housing resisted his attempt to withhold funding, arguing that doing so would be ineffective given the need for shelter beds, outreach workers, and other services for the homeless.
They urged the governor for clearer guidelines as well as ongoing, guaranteed funds to develop more ambitious goals.
On Friday, he reaffirmed the unprecedented sum of money his administration has spent on housing and homelessness, noting, in particular, the recent pledge by the state legislature to invest $15.3 billion over the following three years.
Tens of thousands of people had been kept housed thanks to the money, he claimed, but he also recognized that many were still sleeping on the streets.
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How does Newsom aim to tackle the homelessness?
Although finding additional dedicated funding as we enter what may be a recession with the headwinds requires one to be sober about it, just as they are with their budgets, Newsom said he had no intention of abandoning local governments.
After the discussion, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg backed Newsom, saying he understood the need for the governor to spur local governments into action. He complimented Newsom’s initiative on the matter.
Newsom before California
As a former mayor of San Francisco, where tent encampments crowd sidewalks and people in obvious mental heacrisesisis are a common sight, Newsom took office in 2019 vowing to own an issue he said he understood intimately. In California, addressing homelessness has traditionally been left to local governments.
Because of the state’s high cost of housing and historically low level of home construction, there were an estimated 161,000 persons without a place to live in California as of 2020, and this figure is anticipated to rise this year.
The number of people losing their homes continues to rise, according to advocates for the homeless, who claim they are unable to keep up.
What was decided in the meeting?
After state authorities revealed on Wednesday that California will probably have a $25 billion budget deficit next year after a run of historic surpluses, the prospect of a distinct funding source for homelessness this week dimmed.
In what was the third round of payments, the state’s 13 largest cities, 58 counties, and 44 organizations that offer services to the homeless filed 75 applications outlining their strategies for spending $1 billion.
A further $1 billion is available, but according to Erin Mellon, a spokeswoman for the governor’s office, Newsom won’t give it out until those governments promise “to be more aggressive across the board.” In two weeks, the plans are due.
How will the local government get access to full funding?
Applicants must also agree to put as many best practices into action as they can, such as speedup the construction of new homes for low-income and extremely low-income households and finding people more effective ways to place them in housing.
The Newsom administration is also taking tough measures against California cities and counties that are unwilling to construct new housing, particularly affordable housing. Many of these communities claim they don’t want the congestion and neighborhood changes that come with more residents like
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