POLITICS
05/09/2019 20:33 EDT

California Proposes Doubling Budget To Fight Homelessness

Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to spend a billion dollars fighting the state's homelessness crisis.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced a budget plan Thursday that proposes nearly doubling what the state currently spends on its homelessness epidemic.

Newsom, who took office in January, emphasized the state’s increasing cost of living ― an issue linked to homelessness ― in a statement accompanying the budget proposal.

“This budget fortifies California’s fiscal position while making long-sighted investments to increase affordability for California families,” he said. “The affordability crisis families face in this state is very real, and that’s why this budget tackles those challenges head-on by focusing on housing, health care, early childhood and higher education.”

If approved, the state budget will set aside $1 billion to address homelessness, up from the around $500 million former Gov. Jerry Brown (D) submitted in his last budget. 

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Newsom details his homelessness spending on Thursday with a pie chart. 

The bulk of the funding, $650 million, is slated for local governments to provide homelessness emergency aid. Another $400 million will go toward increasing grants for families in the CalWORKs program, a state welfare program for families in need. 

Thursday’s announcement comes weeks after a group of California mayors pushed Newsom, who hadn’t planned big changes to Brown’s homeless spending, to increase funding for the crisis. The group included mayors from Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles and other large cities. 

“We haven’t been doing enough to support cities,” Newsom said at a press conference in March after the meeting. “The budget just changed. This was an important meeting. I did not just listen, I took notes, and I’m taking direction. And it’s not just about more money, it’s about reprioritizing some of those investments.”

Despite its wealth, California has one of the highest rates of homelessness in the U.S. On a single day in January 2018, more than 500,000 people were homeless nationwide, according to a recent report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development ― and almost one-quarter of homeless people in the U.S. lived in California.