On Tuesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom reportedly called the surging homelessness in his state a national disgrace as he announced his formation of a task force to solve the problem.
According to the Ventura County Star, “Gov. Gavin Newsom called growing homelessness in California a national disgrace …” Noting that in Oakland, where he spoke, county officials had estimated a 43% rise in homeless people over the last two years, Newsom opined, “These are jaw-dropping numbers.”
Newsom wants roughly $1 billion from the state budget to deal with homelessness. He announced that he is appointing Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to head the new Homeless and Supportive Housing Task Force.
According to the United States Interagency on Homelessness:
As of January 2018, California had an estimated 129,972 experiencing homelessness on any given day, as reported by Continuums of Care to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Of that Total, 6,702 were family households, 10,836 were Veterans, 12,396 were unaccompanied young adults (aged 18-24), and 34,332 were individuals experiencing chronic homelessness.
Public school data reported to the U.S. Department of Education during the 2016-2017 school year shows that an estimated 246,296 public school students experienced homelessness over the course of the year. Of that total, 7,533 students were unsheltered, 17,061 were in shelters, 10,095 were in hotels/motels, and 211,607 were doubled up.
Of course, Newsom wants to look everywhere but in his own backyard to find the source of the problem; Steven Greenhut, the Western region director for R Street Institute, told the Catholic Register in 2018 that he blamed the lack of adequate housing in California on the state, asserting, “We’ve screwed up the whole housing market through all these regulations.” The Catholic Register noted, “Local fees on building can add an additional 6% to 18% to the cost of a home. Energy-efficiency regulations add to the cost of a home as well: A recently enacted California rule mandating solar panels on nearly all new home construction will add about $10,000 to the total cost. In Los Angeles, energy-efficiency requirements increase building costs by 10%.”
Stephen Eide, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, theorized to the Register that a significant part of the homeless problem was the rise of the single-parent family, saying, “[Homelessness is] a complicated problem, and people wind up homeless for lots of different reasons. But I think it’s fair to generalize that when we talk about someone who is homeless, in another sense, they are kind of ‘family-less.’”
Kathleen Domingo, director of the office of Life, Justice and Peace in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, added, “We’ve known that we were going to have a housing shortage for years, and we just didn’t prioritize building houses. Because we haven’t prioritized housing, and in a particular way lower-income housing, for those who are being forced out, or are coming here for opportunities, there’s nowhere to look.”
As Spur.org noted, some of the problems inhibiting housing construction in California include:
… a lengthy approval process (sometimes years), costs can rise to the point that projects are no longer tenable . Local fees, permitting, codes and regulations add 6 to 18 percent to construction costs. Uncoordinated city fees and requirements can add up to substantial sums that have unintended impacts on affordable housing.