Advocates applaud Newsom’s focus on homelessness, but solutions can be difficult

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Poll after poll shows that Californians see homelessness and affordable housing as top priorities, which is why Governor Gavin Newsom’s laser focus on homelessness has plenty of fans.

“I think that the fact that this state is going to try and take the problem head-on and deal with the real causes behind it is exactly what we’ve been waiting for,” Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee President John Kraintz said.

Kraintz has spent his share of time on the streets and along the American River. He likes the governor’s plan of using state property, including Caltrans land, for shelters.

What goes unanswered is who will pay for building the shelters and managing them — and neighbors have always had the last say.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg is on the governor’s homeless task force. He says that resistance to shelters and affordable housing in communities will have consequences, like the restriction of certain state funds.

“Strong accountability measures for all levels of government to actually meet benchmarks to bring people indoors,” Steinberg said.

And you can’t talk about homelessness without talking about affordable housing, something California has very little of. But identifying the issue is different than doing something about it.

A few weeks ago, the Democrat-dominated State Senate failed to pass a zoning bill meant to get more housing built. Newsom couldn’t even marshal support from his own party.

There were concerns over local control and whether low-income housing would be replaced by high rent apartments.

“People have to be willing to be patient,” Housing California Executive Director Lisa Hershey said.

Housing California has been in the thick of creating more housing for those who can be close to homelessness. It says over the last three years, housing bonds, rent restrictions and other incentives have turned the tide.

But don’t expect the governor’s goals to be reached just because he declares them in a speech, Hershey says.

“There are a lot of great actors, local governments, state governments who are trying to do the right thing,” Hershey said. “And then there are other communities that aren’t there yet.”


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