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Wealth & Poverty Review Stephen Eide: Homelessness May Be Newsom’s Undoing

The California vote to recall Governor Gavin Newsom is fast approaching on September 15.

Last Friday’s Wall Street Journal featured an excellent piece from Stephen Eide titled, “Homelessness Is Behind the Anger at Gavin Newsom.” Here’s an excerpt:

Most Californians disapprove of the governor’s handling of the issue. More than half of respondents to a July Inside California Politics/Emerson College poll rates his response to the problem as poor. In some parts of the state, homelessness tops even Covid-19 in surveys of public concern.

To many recall voters, the word “homelessness” connotes less a lack of access to housing than a state of spiraling out of control. Homelessness means hepatitis outbreaks and deadly encampment fires. It means parks, beaches and sidewalks strewn with needles and human waste. It means urban chaos.

The proliferation of tents and permanently parked recreational vehicles on city streets in California has coincided with prodigious increases in government spending intended to solve the problem. Mr. Newsom’s most recent state budget committed $12 billion to addressing homelessness over the next two years. That expense, which the governor touts as “the largest in state history,” comes in the wake of successful ballot initiatives to raise taxes to pay for homeless programs. Examples include Measure H in Los Angeles County (March 2017) and Proposition C in San Francisco (November 2018).

Buckets of taxpayer money have been thrown at the problem. Los Angeles will devote $1 billion to homeless services over the next year. San Francisco will spend the same amount over two years. What will taxpayers in these cities get for their money? A proliferation of “comprehensive strategic plans” for combating homelessness, most of which call vaguely for some combination of less public disorder and more help for the homeless.

Stephen Eide, “Homelessness Is Behind the Anger at Gavin Newsom” at Wall Street Journal

If you have a subscription, and get the chance, read the entire article. It is well-stocked with an overall understanding of California’s homelessness situation. The fact is, people are tired of politicians throwing money at problems that are never solved. Money is a resource greatly needed to combat homelessness and the myriad of ways people become homeless, but money alone (just like housing alone) will never solve the problem. 

California voters will soon decide whether they will trust Newsom to fix the problem that has only grown under his watch.

Caitlin Bassett

Caitlin Bassett is a Policy Analyst and Communications Liaison for the Center for Science & Culture and the Center on Wealth & Poverty. Her main areas of focus are in Big Tech and its impact on human freedom, as well as homelessness and mental illness. In her free time, she enjoys delving into Lewis and Tolkien, cosmology, and running around historical sites on the East Coast. She graduated from Liberty University in 2017 with her Bachelor’s in Politics and Policy.