Governor of California Declares Homelessness a ‘National Crisis’

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At a press conference on 4th December 2019, Gavin Newsom, the California Governor delivered an ambitious speech to stop the growth of homelessness in California.

The governor declared the issue a “national crisis” and the state top priority. Mr. Newson emphasized the seriousness of the situation by devoting his entire speech to the 150,000 homeless people living in California.

“Let’s call it what it is: It’s a disgrace that the richest state in the richest nation, succeeding across so many sectors, is falling so far behind to properly house, heal and humanely treat so many of its own people,” commented the governor in Sacramento.

The number of homeless people in California has highlighted the striking disparity in the state economy, particularly between the rural north and the coastal regions.

Over the past five years, the State has achieved an annual economic rate of 3.8% above the overall national rate estimated at 2.5% per year over the same period of time. Yet the state is the cluster of the country’s highest poverty rate and is a major contributor to the growth of homelessness. 

Homelessness in California is partly as a result of the high cost of housing, with average purchase prices being over $500,000.

Mr. Newsom relaunched the bill declined in the State Senate in January which values high-density housing near transit lines compared to the local zoning rules applied so far.

The governor’s initiatives were, nevertheless, strategically used by the Trump administration against the Democratic Party, shedding light on this remaining critical situation despite the billions of dollars spent to resolve the crisis. The President of the United States and media coverage have relentlessly attacked Democrats by exposing the critical living conditions of the homeless people in California cities.

In his speech Mr. Newsom called for immediate measures and urged his government to implement them. 

The governor said that 286 state-owned properties, including fairgrounds, armouries and underdeveloped lands, were available to the local government to welcome homeless people. A hundred of campaign trailers normally used by the government in the event of an emergency would also be used as temporary shelters.

The plan is to invest more than $750 million to build new homes so that people could live there as quickly as possible.

The solution, according to Mr. Newsom, would be the establishment of permanent revenues entirely dedicated to the fight against the crisis. The governor concludes:

“ I don’t think homelessness can be solved- I know homelessness can be solved”. “This is our cause. This is our calling” 

Some, particularly among homeless people, still remain skeptical of the actual execution of the project and have already seen their enthusiasm fade in the past with the degrading situation. 

In an article published by the New York Times on 19 February 2020, Thomas Fuller reports the doubt of John Hebbring, a handyman living in a homeless camp:

“There’s a lot of talk about homelessness, but nothing is being done about,” he added, “For lack of a better term, we feel invisible. We are all on the fringe”.