SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — Ordinarily the State of the State is a time for the governor to reflect on California’s successes, Gov. Gavin Newsom instead focused his address on where California is failing — on homelessness and housing.
“Let’s call it what it is, a disgrace,” Newsom said, “The state cannot treat homelessness as someone else’s problem buried beneath other priorities that make better soundbites. It’s our priority and it must be at the top of our agenda.”
The governor intends to back that promise with a $1 billion commitment to combat homelessness. He asked the legislature to approve $750 million for a new statewide housing fund and promised long term sustainable revenue for affordable housing which some in Sacramento believe translates to tax hikes.
He also emphasized the need to see homelessness as a health crisis.
“Doctors should be able to write prescriptions for housing the same way they do for antibiotics,” he said.
He also encouraged Californians to talk about homelessness as a mental health crisis, asking for an expansion of controversial conservatorship laws, which could force homeless individuals with severe mental health issues into treatment.
“It’s time to match our big-hearted empathy with tight-fisted accountability,” Newsom said.
Newsom also criticized President Trump for proposing an $8.6 million cut from Housing and Urban Development Funds and pushed local cities to build now.
“I respect local control but not at the cost of creating a two-class system and that’s what we’re doing,” he said.
Throughout the speech he remained optimistic, pointing to solutions like FEMA trailers, which are being dispatched statewide to house the homeless, he also identified 286 properties of vacant state land that will now be used for homelessness solutions.
“I don’t think homelessness can be solved. I know it can be solved,” Newsom said.
The governor also had a clear message to local leaders calling for a “do it or lose it policy” essentially saying take action, spend your money wisely, or the state will step in and make decisions for you.