Given the obscene rates of taxation in the Golden State, officials should have no problem allocating the funds.
The sad truth is that it simply never needed to be this way.
Now Gavin Newsom is shelling out $300 million to fix a problem he let spiral out of control.
It’s become a public relations disaster and a growing safety concern.
California has seen homeless encampments sprout up along state roads for years, and now state officials have no choice but to tackle the problem.
California officials: Homeless encampments are a $300 million problem
Governor Gavin Newsom (D) began a new program on Monday with Caltrans, the state’s Department of Transportation and the plan is to spend nearly $300 million to clean up the homeless encampments.
According to Caltrans spokesperson Alisa Becerra, the aim is to focus on moving homeless people found camping along state roadways or “any piece of land being used for transportation purposes” into housing.
The plan isn’t just limited to state roads and is set to include bike paths and park and rides in addition to highways.
Encampments are a fire and safety hazard
Part of the problem is that many of these encampments near roadways have become a fire hazard.
A huge fire started near a homeless encampment under the I-10 freeway in Los Angeles on November 11th.
It wasn’t clear whether the fire started in the homeless encampment or in a leased storage space underneath the road containing flammable material, but the homeless encampment went up in smoke.
Contributing to the problem is that often homeless encampments are associated with outdoor cooking.
Highly flammable items like gas-powered generators and lots of nearby debris make for an unsafe situation.
Homeless people have also stolen electricity from outside light fixtures.
Becerra said, “It’s a safety risk for them, for the infrastructure, for our staff, for first responders, and potentially for the traveling public, and that’s why we remove encampments.”
For his part, Newsom said of the encampments when announcing his effort, “The public has had it. They’re fed up. I’m fed up. We’re all fed up.”
He continued, “I think we can all agree that we need to do more to clean up encampments. We weren’t just cleaning up encampments – out of sight, out of mind – and displacing people, removing people, but that we’re trying to resolve the underlying issues in the first place and actually support people in getting them back on their feet to self-sufficiency.”
But Senator Brian Dahle (R) took issue with Newsom’s claim, saying, “The governor didn’t clear these homeless encampments; they just moved them down the street. California spends more tax dollars per homeless person than we do on our students. The homeless crisis is a national embarrassment. This governor needs to focus on real results instead of chasing presidential aspirations and gas-lighting Californians.”
The issue of homelessness was highlighted last month when Newsom admitted to cleaning San Francisco to impress world leaders like Xi Jinping ahead the of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
As part of that effort, homeless camps were removed around the city, leading to criticism that a long-term solution to the problem was lacking.