Governor Newsom Dedicates State of the State Remarks to Homelessness
On Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom delivered his second State of the State Address before a joint session of the Legislature. Despite taking a moment to recognize the successes in our state, including a strong reserve, growing economy and recent investments made in concert with the Legislature last year, he dedicated the bulk of his remarks to California’s homelessness crisis, referring to it as a “disgrace”. He acknowledged “our crisis was not created overnight and will not be solved overnight” and referenced failures in California’s mental health system and disinvestments in the social safety net, income inequality and California’s housing shortage as the cause.
The Governor highlighted activities since signing his Executive Order including the deployment of trailers to Oakland and Los Angeles County and several jurisdictions slated for the next round. He announced the Administration is making nearly 300 properties available to local jurisdictions free of charge, with template leasing language prepared. He also highlighted the opportunities being created through CalAIM (Medi-Cal Healthier California for All) and his investment of $695 million to support its success.
Governor Newsom spent a considerable amount of time discussing mental health, policy changes over previous decades, and limitations to getting individuals the care they need. He mentioned reforms needed to the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) to focus funding on street homeless, at-risk and foster youth and others involved in the criminal justice system, as well as allowing funding to be used to treat substance use disorders.
He discussed his vision for the California Access to Housing Fund, where he proposed an investment of $750 million to invest in homeless solutions. Permissible uses of the funding included expanding and stabilizing board and care, providing rental subsidies and rapid rehousing, and funding innovative housing models. However, he also called for accountability and clear metrics and “deep regional coordination.”
The Governor rounded out his remarks with a personal story of an individual that was once homeless with a substance use disorder and in need of services and support, but who now – three years later – is a community volunteer and has his own home. He emphasized homelessness can be solved and closed with a called for action.