California Governor Gavin Newsom says that California’s failure to curb rising homelessness in cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco is the fault of President Donald Trump and the Trump Administration, not a stalemate in the California legislature or failed progressive efforts to curb the rise of tent cities and transient populations.
Speaking in Sacramento, California, last week, Newsom claimed that Trump is deliberately withholding “key information” that California needs in order to properly address the homelessness problem, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
“California is making historic investments now to help our communities fight homelessness,” Newsom said. “But we have work to do and we need the federal government to do its part.”
He repeated the claims, adding the GOP as a partner villain, in remarks made this week, again claiming that the federal government is standing in the way of California’s ability to enact meaningful reforms to help the homeless.
But while Newsom is quick to place the blame, he isn’t quick to give details on precisely why Trump is to blame for the California homelessness crisis — and that’s probably by design. The “very important material” California is waiting on from the federal government is nothing more than an official Housing and Urban Development count of precisely how many homeless people live in the state of California. Newsom claims that, without those numbers, he can’t release more than $500 million earmarked to abate the systemic problem.
California conducted those counts months ago, however, and merely sent the results to the government to certify. And, as Newsom said in his own remarks, he reserves the right to release the funding — or, at least to accept applications to spend the money — before the federal government issues any official numbers.
“Newsom said his administration would begin accepting applications for nearly $500 million in state funding set aside for local programs to fight homelessness, even though the federal government has yet to release the final point-in-time homeless counts that are typically used to determine how that money is distributed,” the SF Chronicle reported.
HUD also says it’s not late: “Like last year, the PIT count data will be released mid-December.”
Newsom may have other reasons for blaming the federal government, but perhaps none the government can readily control. The economy is still chugging along, employment is at all-time high, and the Trump Administration has made the opioid crisis and criminal justice reform legislative priorities.
Homelessness is skyrocketing in California, in part, perhaps, because of a shortage of affordable housing and a persistent drug problem, but also because cities have adopted stop-gap measures rather than comprehensive legislative packages meant to address the issue. San Francisco keeps spending money to clean up the mess left by tent cities, but has also loosened laws prohibiting people from sleeping rough.
Los Angeles had some good ideas, but its city government is at a stalemate. The city has approved billions of dollars in aid to fund various anti-homelessness efforts, but that money hasn’t been spent.
The Trump Administration, meanwhile, has announced a host of new programs targeted directly at reducing homelessness in California.