California Governor Attacks Crisis of Homelessness by Donating Nearly 300 State-Owned Buildings For Shelters
Andy Corbley, Yes! Magazine, March 14, 2020
California Governor Gavin Newsom has turned over 286 state-owned buildings and properties at no cost in order to house citizens sleeping on the streets.
The properties include state-owned undeveloped lots, fairgrounds, armories, and other government buildings. The move comes in the wake of other housing initiatives launched since Newsom took office in January 2019, including deploying emergency shelters in the form of mobile homes for homeless.
“Let’s call it what it is, a disgrace, that the richest state in the richest nation … is failing to properly house, heal and humanely treat so many of its own people,” Newsom said in his State of the State address February 19.
The rampant homelessness problem in California is normally attributed to a lack of low-income housing options, and Newsom has proposed $750 million dollars for the purpose of getting this kind of housing built and getting people in as fast as possible.
This is on top of the $1.6 billion that already has been allocated for homeless services and other projects.
The state said they would offer the properties to local governments for $1 leases, and said it had earmarked $650 million in State Emergency Homeless Aid “to build out sites.” But the local governments are charged with reviewing the sites and making final decisions about housing people there.
Homelessness in the most populous U.S. state has soared to around 151,000 individuals, with 41,000 of those being chronically homeless over a long term.
Also in his address, Newsom called for allowing exemptions from the state’s stringent environmental regulations, so that homeless shelters can be built more quickly, speeding up the process and reducing red tape.
According to Reuters, the time these properties sit in environmental review has allowed for those who don’t want shelters and low-income housing developed in their neighborhoods to organized and derail the constructions.