Scrutiny of Newsom Over California’s $24 Billion Homelessness Spending

Scrutiny of Newsom Over California's $24 Billion Homelessness Spending

California Governor Gavin Newsom was criticized for avoiding questions about the track report of the expenditures incurred by the state under the homelessness program.

This program was designed to help homeless people and provide shelter.

This aroused concern among democrats and republicans when a recent state audit by the Assembly budget subcommittee revealed that California hasn’t been keeping good track of what happens after they spend money on homelessness programs.

California has spent $24 billion under homelessness programs over the past five years, but the numbers seem to be increasing.

According to the latest federal data, homelessness increased by 6% in 2023, with over 180,000 people living on the streets.

Despite this spending, California has a budget deficit of over $45 billion, which leads Newsom to propose spending cuts affecting various groups, including immigrants and low-income families.

During a press conference, Angela Hart of KFF Health News asked Newsom if he thought the administration had done enough to ensure the money was well spent or if he thought public support for spending on homelessness programs might be decreasing.

After Newsom hemmed and failed to clarify, Hart waited for two minutes and said, ‘I’m sorry, governor. I didn’t hear responses to either of those questions.’

Governor Newsom initially tried to deflect the issue by pointing fingers at local governments, but Hart’s persistent questioning led him to acknowledge the audit’s findings.

He said that the audit ‘did not surprise me’ and that he agreed with most of its findings. He further adds, ‘As it relates to the public mood… more is not always better; the public wants to see results.’

Scrutiny of Newsom Over California $24 Billion Homelessness Spending
Scrutiny of Newsom Over California’s $24 Billion Homelessness Spending

Hart thanked Newsom for his acknowledgment and answer and then shifted the discussion to other pressing issues, such as cuts to healthcare spending and climate change.

State Auditor Grant Parks wrote in a letter to Gov Gavin Newsom and lawmakers that the ‘state must do more to assess the cost-effectiveness of its homelessness programs.’

Auditors highlighted that they collectively received $13.7 billion in funding. Out of these five programs, only two were deemed “likely cost-effective.”

The first program aimed at converting hotel rooms into housing whereas the second program focused on preventing families from becoming homeless.

However, three other programs, receiving a substantial $9.4 billion, lacked sufficient data for evaluation which raises concerns about the transparency and accountability of homelessness spending in California.

Thomas Wolf, a San Francisco-based consultant called the findings a “scandal.” He wrote on Twitter that ‘The state has spent billions on homelessness, and it’s worse,’ ‘Outcomes literally mean everything when it comes to homeless services, and unsurprisingly, they have no data.’

A recent survey showed that many Americans think officials should set up tented camps outside of cities to help those without homes.

Around 67% of people are frustrated with the rising number of homeless individuals and want city leaders to take strong action.

Former President Donald Trump also used homelessness as part of his re-election campaign, promising to ban urban camping and create tent cities with medical and social support for homeless individuals.

About the author

Eliana Cooper

Eliana Cooper is an esteemed editor at World-Wire, recognized for her expertise in sports and government news. With a background in Journalism and Political Science, she excels in delivering in-depth and factual reporting. Her work is known for its thorough research and clear presentation, making complex topics accessible. Eliana's contributions have earned her recognition, including the "Excellence in Sports Journalism" award in 2023.

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