California Governor Gavin Newsom made addressing homelessness a key issue of his campaign. Last month, he dedicated his State of the State address to the issue with a plan to allocate 286 state properties for use as homeless shelters.
This plan builds on his previously proposed plan of spending an additional $750 million to get people into housing this year — on top of the more than $1 billion from previous allocations and an additional $695 million to expand homeless services.
California’s homeless population reached 16 percent last year to around 151,000 people. The new plan designates vacant lots, fairgrounds, armories and other state buildings to be turned over to local governments at no cost to house the homeless.
Newsom has emphasized the need to improve mental health treatment options in order to reduce homelessness. He said, “Health care and housing can no longer be divorced. After all, what’s more, fundamental to a person’s well-being than a roof over their head?” The state has already begun rolling out emergency mobile housing trailers and services for homeless families and seniors.
Homelessness is a critical social issue in California. Having a governor willing to focus on the roots of the issue and propose viable solutions is a major step towards alleviating the number of individuals living without the safety of a shelter.