Opinion: Politicians keep shifting blame as California’s homelessness crisis worsens

Politicians keep shifting blame as California’s homelessness crisis worsens

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a homeless camp shanty

A homeless encampment in Los Angeles on June 20, 2023. [Photo by Julie A Hotz for CalMatters]

Over the last half-decade, state government has spent about $24 billion to ameliorate California’s worst-in-the-nation homelessness crisis. Local governments and private charities have spent countless billions more.

Despite those immense expenditures, the number of unhoused Californians has continued to increase to more than 181,000 in the latest federal census. It’s not only the most of any state but the highest ratio vis-a-vis population, and 28% of the national total.

The data imply that whatever officials have been doing hasn’t worked – or even more ominously that underlying factors, such as extremely high living costs, particularly for housing, and macro economic trends are so powerful that officialdom can only nibble at the margins no matter how much money they spend.

Recent political discourse on the issue indicates that Gov. Gavin Newsom, state legislators and local government officials recognize, if not publicly acknowledge, the virtual impossibility of significantly reducing homelessness, and therefore have evolved into self-protective blame-shifting.

When Newsom was running for governor six years ago, he promised to appoint a “czar” who would wage a frontal assault on homelessness. A year into his governorship, reporters pestered him about making good on the promise. Obviously irritated, Newsom pounded the podium at a budget news conference and snapped, “You want to know who’s the homeless czar? I’m the homeless czar in the state of California.”

As the number of homeless people continued to rise, Newsom began shifting from promises of effective action to blaming others for failure – local government officials in particular. Just last month, for instance, Newsom demanded more oversight of local performance and threatened to withhold additional funds for those deemed to be ineffective, saying, “I’m not interested in funding failure any longer.”

Local officials, most of whom are Newsom’s fellow Democrats, have responded with complaints that one-year budget appropriations prevent them from establishing permanent programs to move people off the streets and into housing.

Read More: California fails to track its homelessness spending or results, a new audit says

Both Newsom and local officials complain about a federal appellate court ruling that homeless encampments cannot be cleared unless their occupants have access to housing. That issue is now awaiting a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Meanwhile, the state auditor’s office last month issued a highly critical report on the Newsom administration’s Interagency Council on Homelessness, or Cal ICH, saying it has failed to accurately report on homelessness efforts and coordinate state efforts.

“Until Cal ICH takes these critical steps, the state will lack up‑to‑date information that it can use to make data‑driven policy decisions on how to effectively reduce homelessness,” the report declared.

State legislators of both parties joined the finger-pointing game this week during an “oversight” hearing in an Assembly budget subcommittee.

They took turns roasting Meghan Marshall, the Cal ICH executive officer, for a lack of data on which programs have been effective.

“You come to a budget committee, and there’s no numbers,” Assemblyman Phil Ting, a San Francisco Democrat, told Marshall. “How many people have we helped? How many people are off the street? … Because that’s what the public wants to know. What’s the money been spent on?”

She replied that “data quality issues” have delayed the collection of data Ting wanted. “That sounds like an excuse,” Ting snapped back.

“The long and short of it is we have to stop measuring success by how many dollars we’re spending,” Assembymember Josh Hoover, a Republican from Folsom, chimed in. “I am frustrated by the lack of urgency that I see today and the lack of data.”

The finger-pointing will probably become even more intense as the homelessness crisis worsens, as voters become more frustrated, and as politicians, including a governor with national ambitions, try to avoid the fallout.

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Bozo
Guest
Bozo
19 days ago

>”I’m the homeless czar in the state of California.”

Is that the one time he told the truth ??

Photo is a Newsome 11 BILLION high speed railway bridge, 9 years to build… to nowhere.

images43445424388844443333
Permanently on Monitoring
Guest
Permanently on Monitoring
19 days ago
Reply to  Bozo

My god, $24 BILLION spent for absolutely NO RESULT!

I am sick of this constant tooting about the HOMELESS!!

99.5% of CA Residents appear to be able to house themselves, if we call the population 40,000,000 and the homeless headcount 182,000…

They’re less than one-half of one percent…

Senior Citizens, on the other hand are estimated to be 15% of the wayward free-spending State’s population, and we coulda USED that $24 BILLION…

You know, for a Senior Center, with a pool and spa…

Fuck the homeless, they had their chance!

Thanks for pointing out the “Bridge to Nowhere”, and the grand and stupid stuff Newsom has tried, while attempting to look effective concurrent to being absolutely impotent…

Here, I will solve the whole problem: For free!

Force the owners to put tenants into all of the unoccupied houses in CA:

“Because California is so large, it still has the second-highest number of vacant homes – about 8.7% according to the report, or around 1.2 million empty homes. In the United States alone, there are about 16 million homes sitting vacant, according to the report which used census data.Mar 31, 2022”

Quit buying homes to hold empty!

While it IS a good investment, it’s causing the entire “homeless problem”, while driving up housing costs for both buyers and renters…

You are welcome Newsom…

Last edited 19 days ago
K11111
Guest
K11111
19 days ago

If you’re tired of hearing about homeless people, don’t read the articles. And “Fuck the homeless, they’ve already had their chance”? How about fuck the politicians and everyone involved in spending 24 Billion in the most extremely ineffective and absurd ways. If the number of homeless really is 180,000(but probably more), then that’s $130,000 per person. They literally could’ve bought lifelong housing for all homeless people by buying up apartment complexes, tiny homes or regular homes with multiple people in them. The ones that are mentally and physically capable of working could pay rent to fund services and housing for future homeless people.

People like you that blindly hate all homeless people are truly soulless, narcissistic and willfully ignorant.

Permanently on Monitoring
Guest
Permanently on Monitoring
19 days ago
Reply to  K11111

I actually agree with you in several ways, and some motels and apartments were purchased during COVID, but were unoccupied presumably as they were in areas that the “homeless” didn’t want to occupy…

People will live in anything, but they don’t want to do anything but what they want to do…

The best solution, and the cheapest, would be to round up the permacampers and transport them to “Internment Camps”…
People who haven’t earned their rights, should be denied them.
They need to be incarcerated until they play nice…

Hardworking taxpayers should not have their communities choking on crime and drug addict tent-dwelling assholes, and calling me a soulless narcissist is just insulting and not constructive…

Incarcerate, feed them their drugs of choice, offer services, and give only basic supplies like free smokes and cheap beer, beans and rice, and don’t allow unrehabilitated people to leave…

Xi’sXoBoy
Guest
Xi’sXoBoy
19 days ago
Reply to  K11111

Maybe that’s because those of us that paid the taxes that allowed the Democrats to waste $24 billion AND the homeless are saying “fuck those that work to pay taxes! They can pay more!”

How about we just say, “Fuck the Democrats, you’ve had your chance and you’ve fucked up everything about California!” Or as Katt Williams would say, “These mother fuckers have fucked up everything ! Everything? Everything! These mother fuckers have fucked up everything!”

Don’t nobody owe the homeless a goddamned thing. Figure out life just like the rest of us did.

Move these people onto state property and END services. They can dig a damned well for water and build mud huts to get in out of the rain.

That’s a little harsh so out of the goodness of my heart, at the very least, move them into the internment camps in California built by FDR to house Japanese Americans. If it was good enough for them it’s good enough for the homeless.

There were approximately 180,000 Japanese Americans interred in these camps so there’s plenty of room for EVERY homeless person.

Then figure out how to feed them on $20 bucks a day each. They can grow vegetables and tend livestock if they want to eat better than that. They don’t need phones, internet, tv or none of that shit. They can communicate via pay phone or the US postal service and entertain themselves with live theater they can do on their own. No funding needed.

Only services funded by the tax payers are transportation to the internment camp, the $20 per person per day to eat (would cover beans and rice and some vegetable protein) in a communal kitchen prepared by the internees themselves. Clean water, sewage treatment, and a laundromat. That’s it. Gets damned cold in Alturus and Mono county so folks can donate warm clothes and blankets. Doctors can donate their time to treat them. Matter of fact, make running an aid station at an internment camp a way to establish residency for recently graduated doctors.

They don’t need other services. Mental health not required because anyone that chooses to live like that has a mental problem. Why treat it? Obviously Californias Democrats don’t think it needs fixing.

Permanently on Monitoring
Guest
Permanently on Monitoring
18 days ago
Reply to  Xi’sXoBoy

Homelessness, is a nice word for “being a bum”…

But it is still a “lifestyle choice”!

There have always been bums, but the 182,000 are going to be competing with the “newly arrived”, swarming over the border at 80,000/month, waving their “Asylum Waivers” and looking to stay somewhere, eat somewhere, and become “American Entrepreneurs”… Unfortunately, we are not prepared for the extra and rather feral humans we already have…

My solution is to live in a remote area, but in town, it’s starting to get crazy…

I like the way you think, but it’s not a partisan issue… Incarceration is a great way to isolate, and it might even improve the street-camping, but lots of people are competing for campgrounds, recreational space and just plain space…

Like I said before, we should develop Nevada into Solar and Wind Generation, and open permanent camping, because there are also 80,000,000 retired seniors who basically won’t be able to afford their lifestyle, very soon…

We are reminded of the song, The Boll Weevil:

“Because it was able to survive every attempt that farmers made to eliminate it, the beetle served as a metaphor for the resilience of the workers in the face of exploitation and racism. This metaphor was commonly employed in songs such as “Boll Weevil Song.”

No matter what you do, you can’t eliminate the problem, and all those immigrants are the new slavery…

I also wonder if I will live to see Mexicans moving back to Mexico, for lack of work and affordable housing…

Some money should be spent, on homelessness, and women and children should be supported, but the problem in it’s entirety results in great waste and use of public services which does not benefit the taxpaying workers of CA.

Last edited 18 days ago
Zipline
Guest
Zipline
19 days ago
Reply to  K11111

Homeless problem is easily solved for less than $10 per homeless person. This would be a permanent solution.

Libertybiberty
Guest
Libertybiberty
19 days ago

Finish the wall

D'Tucker Jebs
Member
19 days ago
Reply to  Libertybiberty

Don’t really see what that has to do with homelessness.

Xi’sXoBoy
Guest
Xi’sXoBoy
19 days ago

Yesterday in the “Tiny Homes” article you said this was all Reagan’s fault. I seem to see a direct correlation between Democrat control of California and the exponential rise in homelessness… and state taxes… and drug overdoses… and taxes… and the cost of homes… and taxes…

There’s also a direct correlation between Democrat control of California and the dramatic fall of the quality of education… and the number of businesses staying in the state… the population decreasing in the state… the quality of life decreasing for those who remain…

There also a direct correlation between Democrat control of California and the excessive taxes we pay…

Thank God Howard Jarvis had the foresight to protect us homeowners and long term residents from at least paying excessive homeowners taxes on any number of houses or other properties we may own or have inherited. This allows us to at least afford home owners insurance in one of the only states that regulates the insurance companies (another example of Democrat failure).

Democrats have the opposite of the Midas Touch. They have “Crap Touch”. Everything they do just turns to crap!

👉🏼 💩

Last edited 19 days ago
Permanently on Monitoring
Guest
Permanently on Monitoring
18 days ago
Reply to  Xi’sXoBoy

I said Reagan, not “The Republicans”…

Reagan was actually a puppet, and he did what he was told to do… He was never the same after he was shot…

Crap
Guest
Crap
19 days ago

Not a single solution the the complex problem. Throwing money at it will not solve.the.problem nor will free everything. Here are some idea to help

Cut taxes etc so business can thrive in California

Open mental facilities so people with mental health problems have a place to be treated and in many cases a place to live since they are incapable of taking care of themselves

Quit.enabling drug addicts.ie free.needles safe shoot up places etc. Those are enablers not helpful

Allow industry back into the state and quit taxing them to death and over regulation. People need a good job to support their families and most of those blue collare good jobs have been exported.

Enough already
Guest
Enough already
19 days ago
Reply to  Crap

Some good observations and answers. And they need to address the fact that the uncontrolled flooding of illegal “newcomers”, is adding to the homeless problem. Our politicians are turning their focus and money to buying future votes instead of living up to the promises they made to the current voters. Watching politicians getting rich in Washington, and owning 3 or more residences through out the Nation, is an insult to the American families that can’t even afford rent. Pelosi and Newsome need to offer their second and third homes up for occupation centers for these homeless, instead of acting like it is just a transitioning minor problem.

Farce
Guest
Farce
19 days ago

That is $$$24 BILLION of OUR Tax Dollars Spent!! 24 BILLION….Hmm…I’m no genius like the well-paid suits hanging out on the government payroll but I gotta say what I see as obvious obstacles that somehow they might have missed (despite their many many meetings, conferences, committees and taxpayer-funded councils)
1) They’re wasting our money! The “Finding a Solution” people have created a jobs program around the homeless situation and are pretending to do something about which most of us do care. But just like weed grow eradicators they have created a honeypot for funding that will only disappear if they actually do the job they are saying they are doing and resolve the problem. So why would they really solve the problem?Do we think they are that stupid? No- “homeless solving people” are here to stay! And suck us all dry. Even as more of us cannot keep up with increasing taxes and then we also slip into losing our homes! It’s a self-reinforcing loop…
2) Yeah it’s a macro-problem!! No surprise unless you’re not paying attention. For years we have known that there are more empty housing units available than there are homeless people. Because these housing units have been bought up as investments by already-wealthy people who would rather see them sit empty. I’m guessing they work as a tax write-off as they get called a “loss” and that counterbalances some obscene wealth being generated elsewhere in their wonderful portfolio thereby reducing their tax bracket and taxes due? (That’s a guess- I’ve never been or wanted to be up in that realm of income manipulation). Also we have known for years that many real estate purchases are being done not by regular people but by “real estate holding corporations”. Often they never even inspect the house/apartment building but just grab them to hold. Are many of these corporations foreign-owned, like maybe Chinese? Yes. And some are just regular old money-washing schemes done by cartels and other organized crime syndicates that just have too much money. Obviously people who have so much wealth that they can invest long-term in real estate and not bother with piddly returns like…rent. And this drives up the real estate market and not-so-suddenly regular working families cannot afford to buy a home…anybody encountering financial disaster will have no time to recover before they are forced out and thrown onto the streets. There they will be given food stamps and a tent and a kind word in the rain as the “Homeless Solution Committee Members” collect paychecks (w/ medical and pensions and vacation pay) and drive home in their electric cars.
3)Governor Greasy Newsom was Mayor of SF when this homelessness crisis first became very apparent .back around 2004-2006 ish. He campaigned in 2007 as being the guy who would address the issue. That was …17 Years Ago. Now he has blown another 24 BILLION DOLLARS of OUR MONEY. And the problem is worse. Is he really the guy to fix it? You gotta ask yourself….

Alf
Guest
Alf
19 days ago

Close the border. Deport all illegals. Prosecute crime, including drug crimes. Don’t let tweakers out from behind bars until they demonstrate a drug free status both physically and mentally. Make drug dealing an automatic capital crime.

That’s a great place to start. Just doing these simple things would clean up the streets. But, politicians don’t actually want to do a damn thing to stop the epidemic. Apparently neither do the majority of citizens in Comifornia because they keep mindlessly voting in incompetent losers. If you want real change, vote out all incumbents. They are total failures across the board.

Last edited 19 days ago
Permanently on Monitoring
Guest
Permanently on Monitoring
19 days ago
Reply to  Alf

Especially in Sacramento and Humboldt/Mendo/Lake/Trinity/Napa/Sonoma

Mendo Known 50 years
Guest
Mendo Known 50 years
19 days ago
Reply to  Alf

So on point!

Thatguyinarcata
Guest
Thatguyinarcata
18 days ago
Reply to  Alf

Weren’t you ranting about throwing the book at the college protestors because of how seriously you take laws? But now your solution is indefinite detention for those you choose to scapegoat for social problems? In direct violation of state laws and the constitution?

It kinda seems like you don’t give a shit about laws and just want your reactionary impulses satisfied by the power of the state.

Alf
Guest
Alf
18 days ago

Clearly you don’t have a clue about laws. Typical Arcata mentality.

Thatguyinarcata
Guest
Thatguyinarcata
18 days ago
Reply to  Alf

Indefinite detention is only an allowable penalty for a few of the most serious crimes. There’s no legal method of holding someone in jail indefinitely because someone perceivedthem as “a tweaker”.

Alf
Guest
Alf
18 days ago

Drugs are a crime that used to be taken seriously until the liberals took over and “decriminalized” it. Mental health facilities were closed by Democrats, yet they blame it on Reagan because he signed a Democrat bill. Both drug use and severe mental health problems are indeed 5150, danger to self and others even though the Arcata mentality says otherwise. There is a huge history of removing these people from society for their own safety and the safety of others, and yes the law supports it. The Democrat party is soft on crime across the board, refusing to follow the law. DAs, like the current and previous at least two are at best a bad joke. The judges do whatever they want, not what they swore an oath to do.

So, I don’t expect anyone from Arcata, all of Humboldt to know the laws, much less follow them. Arcata’s population at large, not only refuses to follow the law, but refuses to acknowledge laws exist at all if they disagree with them.

Thatguyinarcata
Guest
Thatguyinarcata
18 days ago
Reply to  Alf

California’s liberalization of drug laws arose as an attempt to address the Supreme Court order to reduce our state prison population so that it had a chance of providing a level of medial care that didn’t violate the constitution.

California was hard on drug crime all through the Crack epidemic and the primary result was the decimation of certain marginalized and targeted communities which has contributed substantially to the existing culture of lawlessness. Children who experience their community being violently gutted by policing and judicial systems don’t tend to grow up to have a ton of respect for police and judges.

Claiming that the solution is as simple as being “tough on crime” is the same level of simplistic thinking as claiming the solution is simply to decriminalize certain behaviors. Chronic drug abuse and wide spread mental illness are societal problems that don’t have simple solutions. The total lack of authentic investment, primarily of time and emotional energy, in our communities as we increasingly hand our culture over to for profit businesses is probably the biggest factor.

Zipline
Guest
Zipline
17 days ago
Reply to  Alf

Throw all immigrants and descendants of immigrants out. Send them back to country of origin.

Outside Looking In
Guest
Outside Looking In
19 days ago

$24 billion for 181,000 homeless individuals comes out to more than $132,000 for each one.

They can’t house one person for $132,000?

We’ve been ripped off. People need to go to prison for this.

Old SchoolD
Member
19 days ago

Progressive policies behind all problems in California.

AnonD
Member
Anon
18 days ago
Reply to  Old School

I’ve worked with folks who are in active addiction/or recovery, as well as chronically mentally ill folks.
I wish, someone would ask ppl in recovery,”What got you clean and sober?” Many times the answer is jail, no more resources, all family/friend ties, are broken, injury, etc. You know what I’ve never heard?” I’m clean and sober today bc I was allowed to do drugs,urinate, take a crap, vomit, where I wanted to” “Commit petty crimes to support my habit, get a hot meal when hungry, a shower, a cot if I could follow the rules for 8 hours”. I know that’s over simplifying, truly. But? We are keeping ppl sick, living in horrific situations, dying, by not expecting anything of them. Never have I seen an active addict get a nice place to bunk down, needs met zero expectations, and decide to get sober. Ever.

Thatguyinarcata
Guest
Thatguyinarcata
18 days ago
Reply to  Anon

Its become painfully clear that it’s time to bring back involuntary mental health facilities.

Xi’sXoBoy
Guest
Xi’sXoBoy
18 days ago

Absolutely! And registered democrats go to the front of the line!

GingerD
Member
Ginger
19 days ago

If all the NOGs, charities, committees that were paid to fix it actually did, they would be out of a job

Outrageous
Guest
Outrageous
19 days ago

If there are 81,000 homeless in California and California taxpayers have paid over 24 billion to house the homeless then where is the money? If one billion is 1,000 million then 24 billion is 24,000 X 1 million. So you can basically build 48,000 homes that cost 500,000 free and clear and give them away. Thats in no way my suggestion. This is just to demonstrate how astronomical 24 billion dollars is to us average working people.

Wizard of OddsD
Member
18 days ago
Reply to  Outrageous

1 million seconds = 11 days
1 billion seconds = 31 years

Its 181,000* homeless in CA, which means CA spent $132k per homeless over the last 5 years, and the homeless population has increased by 20%

Bug on a Windshield
Guest
Bug on a Windshield
18 days ago
Reply to  Wizard of Odds

I’ll gladly take $60,000 a year to be homeless.

Yabut
Guest
Yabut
18 days ago
Reply to  Wizard of Odds

That doesn’t take into account the people who are paid by homeless initiatives and who might swell the ranks of the homeless without these subsidies. Bureaucrats, grant recipients, politicians, charities- all kept from homelessness at least in part by this spending.

Country Joe
Member
19 days ago

This is California under democrat leadership. Vote Republican to clean up these messes or expect more of the same.

Country Joe
Member
19 days ago

Vagrant is much more appropriate than homeless.

lol
Guest
lol
18 days ago

The root cause of homelessness is economic inequality. Drug use and mental illness are symptoms, not causes.

Yabut
Guest
Yabut
18 days ago
Reply to  lol

Too bad that’s not true. Mental illness is a physical illness just as heart disease. It happens without regard to wealth or income. Paying for treatment does not buy cures. Drug use is the same. A substantial number of very wealthy people have died of overdoses. A substantial number of very wealthy people are seriously mentally ill.

Although wealth can cushion the homelessness effect for some people if it comes from wealth not dependent on work, it does not guarantee it. A person whose income to spend on housing comes from their work loses housing when mental illness or drug use impair that ability. Even those with independent means can burn through huge amounts of money buying drugs and be homeless. Mental illness can make a person so paranoid or irrational that even having a home doesn’t mean they will use it. And too often leads to refusal of treatment anyway.

Bobo
Guest
Bobo
18 days ago

I’ll tell you, Republicans are not the answer to all the problems, But the Democrats are the cause of all your problems!

Mr. Clark
Member
Mr. Clark
17 days ago

”Maybe that’s because those of us that paid the taxes that allowed the Democrats to waste $24 billion AND the homeless are saying “fuck those that work to pay taxes! They can pay more!”
How about we just say, “Fuck the Democrats, you’ve had your chance and you’ve fucked up everything about California!” Or as Katt Williams would say, “These mother fuckers have fucked up everything ! Everything? Everything! These mother fuckers have fucked up everything!”
Don’t nobody owe the homeless a goddamned thing. Figure out life just like the rest of us did.”