California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday highlighted his government’s new provision of modular tents and camp trailers as part of a larger effort to fight homelessness.
The state is facing a rising homelessness problem — the number of homeless there jumped 16.4% in 2019 from the prior year, according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In an executive order signed this month, Newsom ordered:
• An unspecified number of modular tents from California’s Emergency Medical Services Authority. Health and social service providers would use them to deliver services to homeless people across the state.
• One hundred camp trailers for use as temporary homeless shelters, supplied by the state’s Department of General Services.
The trailers will hardly put a dent in the state’s homelessness problem — tens of thousands of people are homeless in Los Angeles alone; many there already sleep in tents, while about a quarter of the homeless population there sleep in their vehicles.
But Newsom, a Democrat, said the executive order is just an example of state-local partnerships that can help. He is asking the Legislature to pass $1.4 billion in spending to fight homelessness in the 2020-21 budget year, including $750 million to support for rent and to provide more housing, his office says.
Newsom and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf on Thursday spoke about the tents and trailers during a visit to a vacant city-owned lot in Oakland, where the state delivered 15 trailers and a medical services tent.
The rest of the trailers will be given to other local partners, the governor’s office said, without specifying where they will go.
“Renovated trailers will not solve our crisis overnight, but they will provide more safety, services and critical care for our families right now,” said Schaaf, a Democrat.
California homelessness helped fuel nationwide spike
The spike in homelessness in California and elsewhere on the West Coast helped fueled a 2.7% bump in homelessness nationwide last year, and “offset” decreases in the condition in 29 states and Washington DC, HUD said.
The homeless population in Los Angeles County alone increased to almost 60,000 people in 2019, despite major investment in combating the crisis, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority said in a June report.
Thousands of people became homeless, the authority said, as a result of the economy, foster care, mental health, criminal justice and the housing market.