Newsom Promised To Tackle California’s Homelessness Crisis Head-On. Has He Delivered?
Speaker 1: 00:00 Governor Gavin Newsome has made bold promises to solve homelessness and thousands of people have been sheltered under his watch, but cap radios. Chris Nichols explains as part of our series on the governor's progress this week. Advocates wonder if the early success will last past Speaker 2: 00:17 California governors largely ignored the state's homelessness crisis. Newsome has tried to tackle the problem head on. I don't think homelessness can be solved. I know that homelessness can be solved. Newsome devoted nearly all of last year. State of the state address to this ongoing human emergency. Speaker 3: 00:38 It's just hard. Cause it's our calling. Let's all rise to the challenge and make California stand up as an exemplar of what true courage and compassion can achieve. Let's all get to work. Thank you guys. Thank y'all. Speaker 2: 00:53 In some ways he has delivered Newsome has worked with state lawmakers to invest billions of dollars in housing, rental assistance and health services for homeless people. Last year, his team searched the state for excess land and even vacant hospitals to use a shelters this spring, he won praise for moving more than 22,000 homeless people into motel rooms, all to prevent major outbreaks of COVID-19 the effort called project RoomKey largely worked Speaker 3: 01:24 Being inside. It means a lot to me. It does. I feel safe. I'm safe. I'm secure Speaker 2: 01:30 65 year old Curtis Freeman, who was on the streets of Sacramento for nearly a year. He lived in a tent under a freeway, often afraid for his life. Then in March, he got a motel room through RoomKey standing outside his motel near interstate five, wearing a black and white beanie. Freeman says he's no longer afraid. Speaker 3: 01:50 I ain't got to worry about nobody. You know, somebody that I can lay down and relax. Speaker 2: 01:55 But despite Newsome's efforts, the crisis remains homeless camps, line sidewalks, riverbanks, and freeways across the state. And estimated 150,000 Californians are without a home. According to the most recent federal survey this summer to build on the progress of RoomKey Newsome introduced project home key, the new effort awarded $800 million to cities and counties to buy motels for more permanent homeless housing. But some of Newsome's critics say without providing more services programs like room key and home key, just serve to score political Speaker 4: 02:31 Points that results in leaders, patting themselves on the back and checking another box Speaker 2: 02:36 Or state lawmaker. Mike Gatto, a Democrat from Los Angeles says Newsome's policies need to have a greater emphasis on mental health treatment so that people are more self-sufficient. Speaker 4: 02:46 In reality, the people are not given the support that they need, or frankly, the tough love that they need. And then they wind out back on the street Newsome. Speaker 2: 02:54 It says mental health support is on its way as part of the nearly $2 billion wants to spend on homelessness in his January budget. Jennifer Friedenbach of the coalition on homelessness in San Francisco says Newsome deserves credit for his early actions as governor, but she and others who work with the unhoused say the state needs a permanent source of funding to fight the problem. Speaker 5: 03:17 I would give them good marks for focusing on homelessness, but he's really tinkering around the edges. It needs to go much farther, you know, bring in additional revenue in order to address the situation at the scale that the crisis calls for Speaker 2: 03:33 Friedenbach who has known Newsome since his time in local government in San Francisco says he's always had bold ideas. She says the question now is whether he can follow through and truly solve this growing crisis in Sacramento. I'm Chris Nichols.