Written by Thomas Geiser
Homelessness continues to be a growing problem in California. A recent count from 2019 puts the number of homeless individuals at 151,278, with only 42,846 of those being provided with shelter. This is up from 129,972 in 2018, when the sheltered population was 40,429 people.
This is an increase of 21,306 over the course of a year and out of those new homeless, only an additional 2,000 are being provided with shelter. What is even more startling is that these are conservative estimates due to the unreliable methods of measuring homeless populations that rely on indirect estimations. Counting the homeless is incredibly difficult due to their high mobility and reluctance to be interviewed.
Governor Newsom’s solution to the homeless crisis is to simply throw more money at the problem, of course. His proposed budget would put an additional $1 billion towards fighting homelessness. This is how California Democrats have been dealing with the issue for years and it’s clearly not working. An alternative approach is required to make any headway on this issue.
Homelessness is a complex, multi-faceted problem. Not all homeless people are homeless for the same reasons. Drug abuse, mental illness, and high costs of living are some of the primary causes of homelessness that each need to be addressed individually. San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer understands these nuances and the challenges that they pose to California.
Mayor Faulconer has launched a committee for the purpose of supporting a proposition on the 2022 ballot that would attempt to conquer these challenges. An illness cannot be cured by treating the symptoms, the root cause must be ascertained and properly treated. Homelessness is a symptom of deeper problems, high costs of living and substance abuse, that also affect the realms of public health and public safety.
This $1 billion of Governor Newsom’s budget would go towards a fund to treat mental illness in the homeless. This is a problem that needs to be dealt with but it’s simply one part of a larger whole. Unless the other causes are treated as well, the homeless problem will continue to exacerbate. This budget is throwing money at problems that are not simple enough to be solved with money alone.