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Newsom signs $12 billion homelessness package with ‘strings attached’

California will be spending $12 billion to address the state’s homelessness crisis in a massive plan that comes with “strings attached.” Gov. Gavin Newsom has high hopes the bill will “functionally end family homelessness” within the next five years.

Calling Monday a “new day,” Newsom signed the historic bill into law from a press conference at the Sebastopol Inn after he and other state and local leaders spoke briefly about how homelessness is impacting both big cities and rural communities alike. 

State Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) highlighted what he said are some of the state’s highest rates of homelessness per capita along the northern coast, adding that Sacramento has paid little attention in the past to the issue in rural communities.

McGuire said:

“Thank you for your investment in the most vulnerable.”

According to the Office of the Governor, the $12 billion package is the largest investment of its kind in state history. The funding to be spent over the next two years aims to find housing placement for 65,000 people, increase housing stability for 300,000 people and create an additional 46,000 new housing units by building on the Project Homekey program established in response to the pandemic. The largest share of the funding will go to expanding the Homekey program, which converts motels, hotels and other suitable space to new housing units.

Newsom said $3 billion will be spent toward conservatorships, something the governor is “proud of.” Additional funding is allocated for “prevention, rental support and new housing opportunities for people at risk of homelessness.”

An Office of the Governor announcement published in May said:

“The plan focuses on those with the most acute needs, with at least 28,000 new beds and housing placements for clients with behavioral health needs and seniors at the highest risk of homelessness.”

Newsom stressed that more money is not helpful without accountability and noted that counties will have to meet six metrics in order to qualify for funding, the accountability provisions being the “strings” he referred to.

In response to a reporter’s question about homeless people attracted to the state’s resources, he suggested the country as a whole is failing to address the growing homelessness issue, adding:

“We’ve got to take responsibility. Do more. Do better.”        

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