California Gov. Gavin Newsom withholds $1 billion, rejects local plans to fight homelessness
California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Thursday that the state would withhold more than $1 billion in funding that was supposed to be allocated to fight homelessness, calling the plans put forth by local leaders “simply unacceptable.”
“Californians are demanding accountability and results, not settling for the status quo,” Newsom said in a statement. “Everyone needs to do better — including cities, counties and the state.”
All 58 counties and 13 largest cities in the country were set to receive a portion of $1 billion in funding through the state’s Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention (HHAP) grants.
Together, the plans would reduce homelessness statewide by just 2% over the next four years, according to Newsom. Some plans predict a double-digit increase in the local homeless population.
“At this rate, it would take decades to significantly curb homelessness in California,” Newsom said.
Leaders of California’s largest cities seemed upset by Newsom’s funding freeze.
Angels Mayor Eric Garcetti said he applauds the governor’s “ambition to use his bully pulpit” to address the crisis, but that the effort can’t “get bogged down in more politics and red tape.”
“Let me be clear: Any additional delay in the governor’s order hurts our ability to place Angelenos living on the streets now in safe and stable housing,” Garcetti said in a statement. “And that’s puzzling, after the City worked directly with state agencies and county partners and received positive feedback on the development of our plan.”
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf also characterized Newsom’s move as counterproductive.
“I share the governor’s urgency to reduce homelessness and am always ready to meet any accountability measures,” Schaaf said in a statement to the Marin Independent Journal. “However, we are confused as to how delaying HHAP funding advances our shared goals.”
Before he was elected governor, Newsom was major of San Franciscoa city that currently has more than 7,500 homeless people, according to the latest figures.
The state capital, Sacramento, outranks San Francisco, with more than 9,200 people experience homelessness any night this year.
California counted more than 173,000 homeless people last year, making it the state with the largest unsheltered population in America, according to the California Homeless Data Integration System.
The funds available through HHAP are part of $15.3 billion approved by state lawmakers to combat California’s homelessness crisis.
Newsom also announced a mid-November meeting with local leaders to reassess how the state is tackling its homelessness problem.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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