Written by T. Logan Dayne
At the beginning of January 2020, California found roughly 161,000 homeless Californians, many of which were found in Los Angeles. Under Newsom, the state spent billions to help combat the problem. Taxpayers paid the price and the program still failed. Money was spent to create shelters and housing units, but under the housing affordability crisis, rent and materials skyrocketed. Millions lost their jobs, homelessness increased, and homeless camps began expanding. Law enforcement officers were even prevented from disbanding camps. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, this homelessness issue, if anything, is underrepresented as it does not account for many who are couch-surfing or staying in cheap motels. Meaning that California is spending billions with little data on if it is even being effective.
“We have appropriated billions and billions of dollars to these issues. And it’s not clear where we’ve made progress.” Chairperson of the Assembly Budget Committee Phil Ting had to say. In the 2021 budget for California, $12 billion was set to be spent on homelessness. According to the most recent updates, much of that hasn’t impacted the problem yet. With little data, Newsom’s record-breaking budget has set even more money for a problem he has little evidence on how to fix. Effectively throwing money into the dark. Republican lawmakers have called for a special session to address the homelessness crisis but Democrats in the supermajority legislature are slow to pick up the idea. “When you have a special session, you can put your entire focus on that. So we’re hoping that the governor will take up a special look at that perhaps that comes on the heels of the homeless count,” State Senator Patricia Bates had to say. With little debate and no data, it seems that despite throwing money at the problem, homelessness is almost certain to increase.
Photo Cred: AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes