Homelessness Dominates State of the State

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Governor Gavin Newsom dedicated nearly the entirety of Thursday’s State of the State of Address to the issues of housing and homelessness, hitting virtually all of the major themes analyzed in the Bay Area Council Economic Institute’s seminal 2019 report, Homelessness in the Bay Area. Whereas most states saw homelessness decline between 2017-2019, homelessness in California surged over 16 percent. In response to the crisis, Newsom urged lawmakers to strengthen the ability of cities and counties to force medical treatment on the severely mentally ill, eliminate red tape for homeless shelters, and increase housing production near transit hubs and job centers—key principles of Sen. Scott Weiner’s SB50 that failed to pass the Senate last month.

The Governor stepped back from a plan proposed by his Homelessness Advisory Council that would have asked California voters to approve a constitutional amendment mandating that cities and counties provide shelter capacity to all who need it, and instead proposed lawmakers create or find sustainable funding for homelessness services paired with new “use it or lose it” accountability measures. To engage with the Council’s Committee on Homelessness, please contact Vice President Adrian Covert.

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