Gavin Newsom’s Solution to California’s Homelessness Problem: Throw Another Billion Dollars at It

California’s homeless population keeps skyrocketing, and so has the number of bills aiming at solving the homelessness problem. Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled a billion-dollar plan designed to get more houses built for those who need it. But even that much money isn’t likely to help many people if the underlying problem remains unchanged. To solve California’s homelessness problem, you have to address inflexible zoning rules and ineffective municipal bureaucracies.

Newsom’s executive order allocates $750 million to build more affordable housing units and to establish a California Access to Housing and Services Fund within the state’s Department of Social Services. The goal is to pay rent for individuals facing homelessness and to make vacant state properties available immediately as shelter options. An additional $695 million will be used to boost preventative health care measures for the homeless through Medi-Cal Healthier California for All.

This follows 18 housing bills that Newsom signed into law last fall. The bills are supposed to accelerate housing production, but they don’t have much teeth. They require local jurisdictions to publicly share information about zoning ordinances and other building rules—not to roll the regs back, just to be more transparent about them. They also ask cities and counties to maintain an inventory of state surplus land sites suitable for residential development.

California voters also approved $4 billion in bonds last year for affordable housing programs.

“You can’t just throw money at homelessness and a lack of affordable housing and expect that you’re going to achieve the result that you’re hoping to achieve,” says David Wolfe, legislative director of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. After all, it hasn’t worked so far.

California is home to almost half of America’s homeless population, and the median price for a house there is more than twice the national level. Fixing that problem means building more houses, but zoning laws and anti-development activism make that difficult. Serious reform will require moves like modifying city codes to let developers build units that aren’t single-family homes. And dialing back rules, such as the California Environmental Quality Act, that let neighborhood activists block new construction with faux-environmental concerns. And, in general, clearing away the thicket of state and local regulations that get in the way of meeting the demand for housing.

“If you’re a city council,” San Francisco Assemblyman Phil Ting told Curbed San Francisco, “the people who vote for you oppose the housing you’re creating, and you’re creating housing for the people who have yet to move in.”

Californians also have to contend with a perverse incentive built into Proposition 13, a measure that limits property-tax increases on homes until they’re sold. This gives cities a reason to encourage commercial instead of residential development.

As legislators continue to pour money into housing programs, perhaps they should think more about how to address the broken system responsible for the mess. In the meantime, others will look for ways to route around the system. Silicon Valley giants have begun to propose their own housing projects, underscoring the state government’s inability to move forwards with its own reforms.

MASHA ABARINOVA is a Burton C. Gray journalism intern.

This article was originally published by


  1. “Stupid is as stupid does!”
    750 million tax dollars and Newsom’s fees, regulations, and skimming would build about 75 low income very small homes.
    Newsom will never be able to solve the homeless issue, he’s a Democrat and they fail at everything they attempt, except the spending of tax revenues. They are really good at that. In government circles, that’s called “waste, fraud, and abuse”!.

  2. Its mind boggling that the Governor fails to see the direct correlation between high energy costs for electricity and fuels, and poverty, homelessness, and a housing affordability crisis already impacting the Golden State.

    California’s green crusade direction and actions are increasing the costs of electricity and fuels which guarantees growth of the homeless, poverty, and welfare populations, and further fuels (no pun intended) the housing affordability crisis.

    California is proud of being the only state in America that imports most of its crude oil energy from foreign countries, and the State that and imports more electricity than any other state, may not be in the best interest of California’s 5th largest economy in the world.

  3. “California is home to almost half of America’s homeless population” Gee, one wonders why that is. CA has been known as the Welfare State even if you aren’t homeless. People know how to work the system. DON’T MAKE IT EASY! We’re throwing good money after bad, right into the jaws of the homeless industrial complex. There are at least three reasons for homelessness; separate those and deal with it appropriately.

  4. The Democraps created the homeless problem in California and in other blue states. We cannot expect they to dismantle what they created. Dems have had no desire for LAW AND ORDER or the Constitution or the public good, for that matter, and that is where it all started. Sidewalk camping laws and loitering laws were not enforced. With the support of the ACLU, that brings us to where we are today. Only Superman Trump can undo this mess, and he will.

  5. The State approach is to ease zoning restrictions, as if the homeless are just waiting for a new $900,000 condo to buy, how ludicrous! In a period of full employment the only reason these vagrants are on the street is because they are unemployable due to drugs.

  6. The lack of and the cost of housing is no the only problem. If there are approx 150k homeless people in this state and you can break them down generally into 4 different groups. The first group have mental problems so to take care of that you have to have enough institutions to handle 37k people. That means a lot of doctors to diagnose the problem and if they can be treated by meds. At this point you have to decide if you are going to spend the money to keep them in place because the meds don’t work or if they do work to ensure they stay on them because if you let them go a lot of them will quit taking the meds and then they are homeless again. The second group are drug addicts and the same problem goes with them. The third group is the easiest to help because they are the ones that lost their job and could not find another one and then lost their home. All they need is a place to stay and training to get a job so they can get their own home again. You could use old schools for everything if you had enough old schools. Make the classrooms into dorms you have the multipurpose rooms for teaching a trade you have the cafateria to feed them. The fourth group you can do noting for because they just like living on the street. So at great taxpayer expense you can not solve the problem because the first two groups will probably have a quarter to a third of the people back on the street and the fourth group likes it there. You can reduce it but you can not get rid of it.

  7. Anyone who still believes that Newscum and his criminal , American hating accomplices are stupid or inept or simply don’t know what they are doing needs to wake up. It is the agenda of our government ( yes I said government not just the Demoncraps ) to destroy our culture and way of life in America to begin a Communist New World Order and this is just one small way of doing it. They do not want the homeless problem solved because is is part of a much larger agenda and Newscum along with Auntie Peelosi ( Skeletor ) are just puppets of the super rich and powerful that want an end to Freedom in America and are well on their way to success . While fools bicker amongst themselves about what voter voted on what measure and ignore rampant voter fraud that is really the cause of Freedom ending legislation we let the true meaning of whats happening slip away. With the indoctrination of our youth to make them believe that good is bad and bad is good , we are loosing our country . No one seems to be willing to unite and stop this evil takeover of this country. We seem to want to blame everyone else for what is happening but do not take the personal responsibility of our no action.
    From the Sword of —-

  8. Stan Sexton says

    Homelessness is caused by the Elite shipping jobs overseas and Inequality has been caused by the Fed in giving the Elite money at almost no cost. As this continues, we will have no middle-class, more homeless and the Top 10% will own everything. As George Carlin said: “It’s a Big Club, and you’re not in it”.

    • Stan- I wholly disagree with your strange theory that is certainly not the reality. Surely you jest. Are you not reading this newsletter?

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