According to Reuters, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said Wednesday that he is seeking a $750 million fund in part to help pay rent and directed the state to immediately start setting up tents and trailers on vacant state land for people facing homelessness in the most populous state’s latest attempt to fight what he called a national crisis.
A map of “excess” state-owned property from the Department of General Services shows a number of Bay Area locations that could potentially be considered, from Santa Cruz and San Jose over to Hayward and San Lorenzo. The order will require state agencies to identify by the end of this month empty lots near highways, fairgrounds, decommissioned hospitals and other spaces where cities, counties or nonprofits can provide space for people to live temporarily.
Newsom said the money, if approved in the 2020-21 budget, would be distributed to major cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as smaller communities to pay rent for homeless people and create more temporary housing.
“The state of California is treating homelessness as a real emergency – because it is one,” Newsom said in a statement announcing his budget proposals, which he is expected to deliver formally to the state legislature on Friday.
An estimated 130,000 people are homeless somewhere in California on any given day, more than any other state, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. California is the most populous state in the United States, home to about 39.6 million people.
“Californians are demanding that all levels of government – federal, state and local – do more to get people off the streets and into services, whether that’s housing, mental health services, substance abuse treatment or all of the above,” Newsom said.
Homeless advocates have cited low housing vacancy as a main contributor to homelessness. The Los Angeles metropolitan area has a roughly 4 percent vacancy rate, one of the lowest in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.