OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Wednesday directing agencies under his command to identify state land that could be used as temporary shelter locations for the homeless.
The order — which can be read in its entirety here — is signaling to a lot of people in both the public and private sectors that California is now taking the issue of homelessness to heart.”READ MORE: DA's Office: Man Shot Dead By Daly City Police Was Wielding Fake Gun
The homeless began camping alongside Interstate 80 in Berkeley some time ago because, as they often say, they have nowhere else to go. The Governor’s order says it is the kind of open Caltrans property that could be used as homeless shelter areas.
San Francisco put a homeless services center on Caltrans property and the city of Oakland located its ‘Tuff Shed Village” on state highway land as well.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff said the offer of land will help cities struggling to find property on which to locate homeless facilities.
“In a high cost area like the Bay Area, free land is very helpful,” Mayor Schaff said. “It’s not just that it’s the state’s land. The fact that it is one dollar a year, that makes a huge difference.”
The Governor has also ordered that other state lands, such as at county fairgrounds be identified for use by the homeless and he is offering 100 travel trailers from the state fleet.READ MORE: Prosecutors: San Jose Flooring Company Owner Charged With Wage Theft; Workers Owed Nearly $1M In Overtime
But CEO of San Francisco’s Coalition on Homelessness Jennifer Friedenbach says what means the most is the order also includes a $650 million budget allocation for homeless aid to cities and counties.
“When the state comes in and they actually fund it,” she said, “that’s really saying that they’re putting their money where their mouth is and they’re really serious about it and not just issuing a press release that’s virtually meaningless.”
Newsom will also seek to secure MediCal funding for housing…arguing that living on the streets is a public health issue. Mayor Schaff says she is relieved to see that as the Governor rolls out his action plan the causes of homelessness are not being ignored.
“He agrees with us that we must do more than just shelter people,” Schaff said. “We must prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place and we must get them permanently and securely housed.”
Mayor Schaff said on Monday, the Governor’s Council of Regional Homeless Advisors — of which she is a member — will have even more specific measures to announce.MORE NEWS: State Lawmakers Vote Down Bill That Would Phase Out Fracking In California
Wednesday’s action was mostly about creating temporary shelter but as officials look for ways to permanently pull people out of homelessness, Newsom’s move will be seen as the state now having its marching orders.