California Gov. Gavin Newsom withholds $1 billion, rejects local plans to fight homelessness

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday that the state will withhold more than $1 billion in funds that were supposed to be used to fight homelessness, calling the plans presented by local leaders “simply unacceptable.”

“Californians are demanding accountability and results, not settling for the status quo,” Newsom said in a statement. “Everyone has to do better – cities, counties and the state.”

All 58 counties and the state’s 13 largest cities were to receive a share of the $1 billion.

Homeless in San Francisco

in 2022 October 9 Homeless people are seen in the Tenderloin area of ​​San Francisco. (Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

According to Newsom, the plans would collectively reduce homelessness in the state by just 2% over the next four years. Some plans predict a double-digit increase in the local homeless population.

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“At this rate, it would take decades to significantly reduce homelessness in California,” Newsom said.

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Leaders of major California cities seemed alarmed by Newsom’s suspension of funding.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he applauded the governor’s “ambition to use his bully pulpit” to fight the crisis, but that the effort must not get “caught up in the larger politics and bureaucracy.”

“Let me be clear: Any additional delay in the governor’s order hurts our ability to get Angelenos living on the streets now to secure and stable housing,” Garcetti said in a statement. “And it’s puzzling because the city worked directly with state agencies and county partners and received positive feedback to develop our plan.”

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf also described Newsom’s move as counterproductive.

“I agree with the governor on the urgency of reducing homelessness and always being prepared to meet all accountability requirements,” Schaaf said in a statement to the Marin Independent Journal. “However, we are puzzled as to how delaying HHAP funds advances our shared goals.”

Before being elected governor, Newsom was the mayor of San Francisco, a city that currently has more than 7,500 homeless people, according to recent figures.

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Sacramento, the state capital, is ahead of San Francisco with more than 9,200 people experiencing homelessness on any given night this year.

According to the California Homeless Data Integration System, California had more than 173,000 homeless people last year, making it the state with the largest unsheltered population in America.

The funding coming through HHAP is part of $15.3 billion approved by state lawmakers to combat California’s homelessness crisis.

Governor Gavin Newsom

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said local leaders need to improve their plans to fight homelessness. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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Newsom also announced a mid-November meeting with local leaders to reassess how the state is dealing with homelessness.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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