In his State of the State address on Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom touched on the strides California has made, as well as the challenges ahead.
"By any standard measure, by nearly every recognizable metric, the State of California is not just thriving but, in many instances, leading the country, inventing the future, and inspiring the nation," Newsom said during the address. "We remain the fifth-largest economy in the world — enjoying 118 consecutive months of net job growth, some 3.4 million jobs created since the Great Recession and nearly 4 million small businesses call California their home."
However, Newsom pointed out that many challenges remain, but one stands out.
"But no amount of progress can camouflage the most pernicious crisis in our midst, the ultimate manifestation of poverty, screaming for our attention: homelessness. Let’s call it what it is, a disgrace, that the richest state in the richest nation — succeeding across so many sectors — is failing to properly house, heal, and humanely treat so many of its own people."
According to the Associated Press, while homeless populations in most states have declined recently, California's jumped 16% last year to about 151,000 people. Meanwhile, a statewide housing shortage has compounded the issue, driving up prices and contributing to more people fleeing California than moving in, the first time in 10 years the state has had a migration loss.
Following the address, Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) issued the following statement.
In the State of the State address, the Governor highlighted issues of clean water, affordable housing, and homelessness. I am pleased the Governor has committed to ensuring clean drinking water is available to all communities in the Valley, particularly in areas that have historically been left behind. I also applaud the Administration’s efforts to cut red tape to build more affordable housing and increase accountability and transparency with the state’s investments. I look forward to continuing our work on behalf of families in the Central Valley.
Assemblyman Vince Fong (R-Kern County) also responded to Newsom's commitment to fixing the homeless crisis.
I am committed to working with any and all problem-solvers in Sacramento to provide and implement real solutions to address our homelessness crisis. Governor Newsom conveyed the need to cut the bureaucracy, red-tape, and redundancy brought on by Sacramento policies and regulations in order to finally address California’s homelessness and housing affordability crisis, which is what my Republican colleagues and I have been urging for years. Californians are rightfully frustrated by the condition of our state whether it be growing homelessness, worsening traffic congestion, and rising crime. The affordability crisis is getting worse every year, yet Sacramento continues to burden hardworking taxpayers. The cost of housing, gas, electricity and food is getting more expensive, yet proposals from Sacramento are worsening the problem. Rhetoric will not solve these problems. We need a new direction in Sacramento.
In addition, Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa) issued the following statement:
We’ve made significant progress in recent years, but there’s critical work ahead on key issues from housing and homelessness to climate change and wildfires, and education and healthcare. It’s clear that Gov. Newsom is committed to addressing our key issues, especially housing and homelessness. Gov. Newsom has demonstrated the vision, values and vigor to get the job done. As the governor expressed, California is an enterprising, pluralizing state of dreamers and doers. Together, our best days are ahead, and I look forward to working with Gov. Newsom to build a more prosperous, vibrant and sustainable state.
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) released the following statement:
I was glad to hear Governor Gavin Newsom devote so much of his State of the State speech to homelessness and glad that he recognizes that our most intransigent problem is one that we will not conquer with solutions on any single front. I liked his recognition that health and homelessness are intertwined. This is not just the stereotype that people without housing are mentally ill or have problems tied to substance abuse. It is the knowledge that poor physical health and high health care costs can drive people into homelessness. It is the knowledge that not having a roof over your head has serious health consequences. We must deal with the two issues together. The Governor has put out budget proposals on this topic and we take them very seriously. Today, we will hold our second Assembly hearing on those ideas. We have worked well together in the past, with the Governor signing 18 of our legislative housing initiatives. We have set aside $7 billion for housing solutions in recent years. However, when the Governor refers to the need for “bold, permanent solutions,” I know that those solutions go beyond the necessary dollars for housing, mental health, planning and social services. This country has a dramatic problem of economic inequality that has grown for decades. Homelessness, as the Governor said, is a manifestation of poverty. To me, that means that Californians will continue to lose their housing and will be unable to find new affordable housing, unless we can do something to make sure California workers get their fair share of the wealth that they produce. They are the drivers of our economy. We must make sure they are protected. I look forward to working with Governor Newsom to fight homelessness on every front.