How Republican Recall Candidates Want to Tackle California Homelessness


Standing under Highway 160 in north Sacramento on Tuesday, amidst thrown clothes, boxes and other random rubbish, Gov. Hopeful Kevin Faulconer gave his case for solving California’s homelessness problem.

“I think very, very strongly that we need to change what we do as a state,” said the former mayor of San Diego, a short walk from the tents of the homeless who have gathered as he s addressed a small crowd of journalists.

“Governor Gavin Newsom’s leadership failure continues to manifest itself in the tent cities and tent camps in California. And this camp that you see right behind us here under that highway overpass is no different.

“We need to fundamentally change our approach,” he added.

Of all the complaints Republicans have about Democratic leadership in California, homelessness is perhaps one of the most significant. A pervasive and nuanced problem, the state is home to more than 161,000 homeless people, representing 28% of all homeless Americans, according to the US Interagency Council on Homelessness.

In fact, this week candidate John Cox said he wanted to focus on compulsory treatment, while Faulconer, standing under the viaduct, said he wanted to impose shelter, or force the withdrawal of the homeless. shelter of public spaces.

During his gubernatorial campaign, Newsom pledged to solve the homeless crisis, pledging to build 3.5 million homes by 2025. In February 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic struck taking hold of the state, Newsom devoted his entire speech on the state of the state to the homeless, “the most pernicious crisis among us.” Since taking office, the governor has made significant investments in homelessness, including his signature Project Roomkey, which was created in response to the pandemic.

On Monday, Newsom signed a budget that will spend $ 12 billion in new homeless relief efforts over the next two years, including adding funding to the governor’s signature housing program, Project Homekey, a larger version. permanent “roomkey”.

But his opponents say that is not enough.

“I fundamentally believe that every human being in California has a right to shelter,” Faulconer said Tuesday. “I also believe that when we provide it, they have an obligation to use it.”

Cox, who earlier this year campaigned with a live bear, went on tour this week with an eight-foot-tall garbage ball to highlight his plan, which he says “will cut homelessness in half over the next ten years “.

Cox, who visited Sacramento with his garbage ball on Thursday, said he wanted to focus on pre-housing treatment, increase compliance with camping laws, “channel the money to solutions” and reduce the cost. housing in California.

Instead of focusing on more beds, he wants to focus on treatment.

“Politicians have treated homelessness as a housing issue, but as almost any ordinary Californian can tell you, it is first and foremost a mental health and addiction issue,” he says. in his plan.

As part of Cox’s plan, California would use guardianship to keep residents off the streets, if necessary.

“Britney Spears doesn’t need a conservative, thousands of Californians living on the streets are the ones who need conservatives,” he said. “And we have to force people to do it, if need be. This should be the last resort.

According to a 2019 estimate from the Hub for Urban Initiatives, California has approximately 137,000 temporary and permanent beds for the homeless.

Faulconer, on the other hand, wants to set up state-owned homeless shelters and focus on cleaning up camps on state property. He pledged to sign an executive order to establish a network of state-run shelters, which would also provide addiction and mental health services.

Faulconer also wants to make it easier to enforce laws against dangerous and unsanitary tent camps, he said.

“I think we will take away all the excuses,” he added.

Cox also proposed measures to enforce laws on public camping, drug use and fighting.

Cox and Faulconer claim the state is hemorrhaging money with little to show for resolutions. Cox wants to direct money from “housing first” programs to “treatment first” programs.

Newsom’s Roomkey Project, the temporary housing program launched in March 2020, costs $ 4,000 per person per month.

Faulconer would take a different approach: auditing current state programs. A Faulconer administration would audit “all public funds used for mental health, drug and alcohol addiction and homelessness programs,” according to a press release.

Cox and Faulconer aren’t the only Republican candidates to take on the homeless.

Former GOP representative Doug Ose also notes this importance of treatment in his solutions and said he supports the possibility of imposing ‘if necessary’ treatment.

Celebrity Caitlyn Jenner has repeatedly spoken of the scourge of tent communities in California cities. In an interview with Fox LA, she complained about the homeless tents in Beverly Hills.

Jenner and others have also spoken about the need to reform the state’s historic environmental law, the California Environmental Quality Act, which critics say makes it harder to build the homes Californians need.

Newsom also recently announced a $ 1.5 billion effort to clean up trash along state highways, saying “the state is too dirty.” The governor’s plan calls for the disposal of more than one million cubic meters – 17,000 tonnes – of waste.

But Republicans continue to criticize the Democratic governor for failing to meet the ambitious goals set during his campaign, and say it’s time for the state to act more firmly. Newsom, speaking on homelessness last week, said the problem is rooted in issues that existed long before he took office.

“I’ve only been in the job for 29 months,” he said. “I can’t make up for the past 29 years.”

Lara Korte covers California politics for The Sacramento Bee. Prior to joining The Bee, she reported on higher education in Texas for Austin American-Statesman. She graduated from the University of Kansas.

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