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Housing and Homelessness

How Gov. Gavin Newsom Plans To Spend $2 Billion To Help Unhoused Californians

Three blue tents used by people experiencing homelessness are lined up on along a sidewalk. Behind them in the distance is an apartment building.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has requested $50 million in Encampment Resolution grants to be awarded to local jurisdictions in the spring.
(Ethan Ward
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When Governor Gavin Newsom announced his state budget proposal on Monday, he included an extra $2 billion to help unhoused Californians.

The California Blueprint builds on last year’s Budget Act that included $12 billion over two years to address homelessness.

The latest budget proposal reflects a shift in focus to more immediate solutions to house unsheltered people, with the money to be used over the next two years to address mental health, housing and wrap-around services.

It includes 55,000 new housing units and treatment spots for people on the path to housing.

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The governor says he also wants to prioritize funding for addressing encampments across the state. The governor requested $50 million in Encampment Resolution grants to be awarded to local jurisdictions in the spring and an additional $500 million in one-time funds to expand investments in short and long-term rehousing solutions.

Okay, Great. What Does It Mean For L.A.?

Residents in downtown L.A. — both housed and unhoused — previously told LAist that this year they want to see more immediate housing solutions for people on the streets, and services to address mental health issues.

With the new budget, it looks like their wishes could come true. But will it help shift the perception among housed people that, despite millions of dollars already spent, nothing seems to be changing?

Richard Green, director of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate, said as someone who lives in Los Angeles, he’s not seeing a big reduction of homelessness.

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“I think that's because It’s still been very slow to get permanent housing available,” Green said. 

“I think a key element that more people are starting to understand … it's easier to buy existing housing and make it permanent housing than building the new stuff. It's cheaper and it's harder for neighbors to get in the way of it.”

Greens said the focus on mental health is also key and expanding MediCal would also help reduce homelessness.

“The share of people who are not insured is an important determinant of homelessness,” said Green.

More Than Housing

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Daniel Flaming, president of the Economic Roundtable, a research nonprofit that focuses on economic, social and environmental issues, said he appreciates the state providing more money and recognizing the seriousness of the crisis, but it will take more than housing.

“We need tools for intervening earlier before there is so much damage in people's lives,” Flaming said. “In particular, employment and living wage jobs to help people escape homelessness.”

Amelia Matier, a deputy press secretary for Gov. Newsom, said the governor will be working with the state legislature to get the budget passed, adding that the state legislature determines the process for how money is allocated.

The budget is expected to go through revisions in May based on updated economic forecasts, with a final budget enacted by summer.

What questions do you have about homelessness?
Ethan Ward for a time lived in his car while attending community college. That experience informs his reporting on one of the most pressing issues in Southern California.