By CapRadio Staff
Updated 1:59 p.m.
Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order on Wednesday that would fast-track the use of government land near highways, travel trailers and vacant state hospitals to urgently get people off of California’s streets.
”Homelessness is a national crisis, one that’s spreading across the West Coast and cities across the country,” Newsom wrote in a statement. “The state of California is treating it as a real emergency — because it is one.”
Newsom also announced that his next budget, which he plans to introduce this week, includes a proposal to spend more than a billion dollars to address homelessness and behavioral health.
The governor is tasking state officials to identify properties that local governments, nonprofits and other partners can use “on a short-term emergency basis” to shelter homeless people, including Caltrans properties near freeways and roads, empty health-care facilities and county fairgrounds.
“Californians are demanding that all levels of government — federal, state and local — do more to get people off the streets and into services,” wrote Newsom, who also announced a new $750 million fund to help pay for access to housing and homeless services.
Chris Martin, legislative advocate on homelessness for the nonprofit Housing California, called the governor’s actions “ambitious and exciting.” He said he was particularly pleased with the governor’s proposal to use some of the proposed $750 million to pay for rental assistance for homeless people.
“You can get somebody into housing tomorrow with rental assistance and keep them housed for the next 10 years,” Martin explained. “So, we see something like rental assistance as being both a short-term and long-term fix.”
His new plan focuses on street homelessness. Nearly 90,000 people live on the streets of California, according to a 2018 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development study. Last year's "point-in-time" count identified Sacramento's homeless population at more than 5,500 people.
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