California Governor Gavin Newsom said on May 11 that $12 billion of the new $100 billion “economic recovery” plan would be allocated to renovate existing buildings and rehouse homeless people, following the previous day’s proposal to expand the scope of the bailout.
Newsom visited San Diego that day. He said at a press conference that the grant would be the largest of its kind in California’s history. The grant plans to add 46,000 new lodging units, house more than 60,000 homeless people and is expected to help 300,000 people get stable housing.
According to new data from the State of California, nearly 250,000 people in the state will seek housing help from local governments in 2020. Nearly 92,000 of those people have been housed, and 117,000 are still waiting for housing assistance.
The 2020 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress (AHAR), released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in March of this year, shows that in 2020, California’s homeless population exceeds 160,000, a 7 percent increase from 2019 Seven percent of these people (more than 110,000) will be sleeping rough (living on the street, in a park, or in a non-residential place such as a car). California’s rough sleepers represent 52% of the nation’s rough sleepers.
During the epidemic, Newsom has launched housing assistance programs called Roomkey and Homekey, which use federal grants to house homeless people in hotels and motels. These programs also help counties, cities and other local entities in the state purchase motels and buildings and convert them into habitable housing.
The new grants will inject $8.75 billion into the Home Key program to convert more existing buildings into housing.
According to the governor’s office, the $800 million spent on the program last year helped add 6,000 new units, providing homes for more than 8,000 people.
The report comes after the California State Controller’s Office released a report in February criticizing the state for being too lax in implementing policies to address the homeless problem and for not coordinating and planning. The report said at least nine state agencies and 41 related programs had spent $13 billion, but there was no proof that the programs were effective.
Newsom said the new program will have greater accountability and more transparent measures to ensure that grants are used for effective solutions.
The appropriation is part of a $100 billion economic recovery plan that Newsom launched. Newsom said the economic recovery plan is heavily funded by a projected $76 billion state budget surplus, as well as $27 billion in epidemic assistance funds from the federal government.
Newsom said the recovery plan will focus on addressing five areas of the state’s challenges. The first challenge he cited in his 10-day announcement of the plan was to give Californians direct financial assistance. The bailout is intended to expand the Golden State Bailout passed in February, adjusting it so that families with a gross income of up to $75,000 can receive a one-time $600 bailout. Families with children, including illegal immigrant families, can also receive an additional $500.
Meanwhile, Newsom is also proposing to allocate $5.1 billion for water infrastructure and to address the state’s drought problems.
Newsom will continue to discuss elements of the economic recovery plan with lawmakers this week, and full details will be released in the coming days.