By California Legislator Kevin Kiley
Earlier this year, Gavin Newsom intervened to kill my Audit of several billion dollars spent futilely on homelessness. Now he wants to spend billions more. And the Assembly just gave him his wish.
Homelessness in California is a calamity. Last year we added 20,000 homeless people, more than the rest of the country combined. At the same time, we spent an additional $2.7 billion supposedly combating it. More Money, More Homeless.
I proposed a full Audit of where all of the money is going, and was one vote away from getting it approved when Gov. Newsom pressured three legislators to “abstain.” Incredibly, the Audit Committee Chairman actually tried to cancel the vote as the Governor’s aides eyed him from the witness table (video here).
Meanwhile, 1,047 homeless people died on the streets of Los Angeles last year, twice as many as just a few years ago. Of the five cities in the country with the most homelessness, four are in California.
Gov. Newsom’s big idea is to throw even more money, $2 billion extra, at the problem. This just passed the Assembly as AB 3300, ignoring the warning of the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst that more funds will “quickly dissipate” because there’s no strategy.
The Assembly also kept a straight face while passing legislation to create a new “Office to End Homelessness,” as if naming a new bureaucracy will end the problem when state policies have only served to enable it.
Actually ending homelessness would mean doing what Mayor Faulconer has in San Diego: provide mental health services, insist on drug addiction treatment, enforce criminal laws, institute workforce training, reform housing policy, care for our veterans.
A smarter approach to homelessness is also a more compassionate one. Gov. Newsom’s approach – spending billions without a strategy – is neither.