Newsom proposes $12B in spending to fight homelessness

 | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) – California Gov. Gavin Newsom wants a “massive expansion” to a safe shelter program started amid the COVID-19 pandemic to tackle the state’s homelessness issue.

In the second part of what he’s promoting as his “$100 billion California Comeback Plan,” Newsom is proposing a $12 billion expenditure that would see a permanent expansion to the Homekey program.

Should the California Legislature approve, the plan would provide 65,000 people with taxpayer-funded housing and an estimated 300,000 people with housing assistance. It also would convert 46,000 domiciles into new housing. 

The goal of the program, Newsom said, is to “functionally end family homelessness within five years” via a $3.5 billion investment in homelessness prevention, rental support and new housing for people the administration identifies as most at risk of homelessness. 

“Within a year, Homekey did more to address the homelessness and affordable housing crisis than anything that’s been done in decades and became a national model. Now is the time to double down on these successful efforts,” Newsom said Tuesday from a San Diego hotel that had been converted into housing for the homeless.

California has an estimated 161,000 people experiencing homelessness, according to an annual report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. That’s more than any other state.

The initial idea, announced in March 2020 as Roomkey, eventually led to $600 million in mostly federal funding to house homeless in danger of COVID-19 exposure or to house them while they recover. According to the Homekey site, the program converted hotels, motels, college dorms and other domiciles to provide shelter for the homeless.

Even if the Legislature endorses Newsom’s housing expansion, The Associated Press reports local public officials would have to endorse converting domiciles.

The funds would come from a historic $75 billion budget surplus in the coming fiscal year, beginning July 1. In addition to the Homekey expansion, Newsom is proposing up to $1,100 stimulus checks for any Californian earning less than $75,000.

Regional Editor

Cole Lauterbach is a regional editor for The Center Square covering Arizona, California, Oregon, and Washington. For more than a decade, Cole has produced award-winning content on both radio and television.


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