SAN DIEGO—Gov. Gavin Newsom visited a homeless encampment in downtown San Diego Wednesday morning, Jan. 12, to highlight his California Blueprint, a plan to tackle “existential threats,” including the housing crisis, through a proposed $286.4 billion budget.
That proposed budget includes $6 billion over several years to purchase and build 55,000 new units of housing for the homeless in California.
“We have to do more and we have to do better,” Newsom said, who was joined by San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria.
In the short term, he said, plans are to spend about $2 billion on “immediate and short-term” solutions that include “rapid rehousing” strategies.
He said he envisions constructing independent units such as tiny houses and continuing Project Roomkey, which houses people in under-used hotel and motel rooms.
In addition, he described a proposed $3 billion effort to help rebuild the state’s mental health services.
The governor said he understands taxpayer frustration at the homelessness crisis, but asked for patience. He said many people on the streets deal with addiction, and they will not be admitted to shelters unless they are sober, creating a difficult-to-solve issue through the old shelter system.
“We are targeting intervention and we are targeting partnerships,” he said.
Gloria, meanwhile, said that, at this time last year, around 1,100 shelter beds existed in the city. Now there are more than 1,300, a number he said will continue to grow in tandem with the acquisition of hotel rooms through state and federal funding.
“That means more people on their way to permanent housing, ending this nightmare,” Gloria said.
The governor also spoke briefly about the state’s response to COVID- 19. He said California has 31% of the nation’s COVID-19 testing sites and has per-capita case, hospitalization and death rates far below those of similarly large states.
“The positivity rate is high, but it is half the rate of states like Texas and Florida,” he said. “We just need to get through this last surge. Just a few more weeks.”