Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled a $12 billion plan to tackle the issue of homelessness, expected to be the largest investment of its kind in California history
This investment is set to provide 65,000 people with housing placements, more than 300,000 people with housing stability and create 46,000 new housing units, according to Newsom’s office.
To build on the success of Project Homekey – a revolutionary program that provided safe shelter from COVID-19 to 36,000 Californians and created 6,000 affordable housing units in record time and at a fraction of the cost.
The plan includes a massive expansion of Homekey and other similar strategies to get housing up and running quickly, investing $8.75 billion to unlock at least 46,000 new homeless housing units and affordable apartments. The package focuses on those with the most acute needs, with at least 28,000 new beds and housing placements for clients with behavioral health needs and seniors at the highest risk of homelessness.
The Newsom Administration’s plan also comes with greater accountability and transparency measures, to make sure investments are put toward effective solutions and money is well-spent.
Under the California Comeback Plan, the state seeks to functionally end family homelessness within five years through a new $3.5 billion investment in homelessness prevention, rental support and new housing opportunities for people at risk of homelessness.
To achieve this, the Newsom Administration is investing $1.85 billion in new housing for homeless families and $1.6 billion in rental support and homelessness prevention for families.
“Within a year, Homekey did more to address the homelessness and affordable housing crisis than anything that’s been done in decades and became a national model. Now is the time to double down on these successful efforts,” said Newsom in a statement. “The California Comeback Plan invests a historic $12 billion to expand these successful programs and seeks to end family homelessness within five years. That’s the idea behind the Comeback Plan’s homelessness investments – more, faster and with accountability and efficiency stitched into the fabric of these new investments.”
The California Comeback Plan includes almost $50 million in targeted programs and grants to local governments, to move people out of unsafe, unhealthy encampments and into safer, more stable housing.
Newsom’s plan aims to provide stable housing for thousands of vulnerable aged youth experiencing homelessness or at-risk of homelessness by targeting resources through Homekey and supporting various youth-focused grant programs. In addition, the plan calls for stricter enforcement measures of state housing law and investments into proven strategies, ensuring local governments are meeting targets to reduce homelessness.
The governor is proposing an additional $1.5 billion investment to clean public spaces near highways and transform public spaces through arts and cultural projects. The initiative is expected to create an estimated 15,000 jobs, including for people experiencing or exiting homelessness, at-risk youth, veterans and formerly incarcerated individuals.
Revisitation Of Cannabis Ban In Unincorporated L.A. County Considered By Supervisors
A revisitation of the current ban on commercial cannabis production and distribution in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County is being considered by the Board of Supervisors.
The board voted unanimously on Tuesday to support a motion authored by Supervisor Janice Hahn and co-authored by Supervisor Hilda Solis that directs the Office of Cannabis Management to revisit the regulations.
Shortly after the passage of Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, the supervisors enacted a ban on the commercial production and distribution of cannabis in unincorporated areas of the county.
The ban was intended to be temporary until the County could develop and establish proper regulations, according to Hahn.
The board established the Office of Cannabis Management which convened a Working Group on Cannabis Regulation to develop recommendations for the board to consider. After conducting extensive community outreach and eight public convenings, the Working Group presented a report to the Board of Supervisors with 64 recommendations.
However, in June 2018, the Board of Supervisors chose to accept the report but not take any action to remove the cannabis ban.
At the time, Hahn said the intention was not to rush the issue and felt there were “too many unanswered questions and uncertainties.”
In the three years since then, much has changed and evolved in the area of cannabis legalization. Multiple additional states have legalized recreational cannabis and the county’s two largest cities, Los Angeles and Long Beach are now allowing commercial cannabis.
“It has been three long years since we decided to keep the cannabis ban in place in the unincorporated area and a lot has changed,” said Hahn in a statement. “We’ve seen how legalization has played out in cities in our own county and we have seen states across the country move in the direction of legalizing, taxing, and regulating cannabis. It may be time for us to join them.”
The illegal production of cannabis has proliferated in unincorporated areas of L.A. County, including the Antelope Valley.
Last month, over $1 billion of marijuana was seized in large-scale operations, some of which are connected to drug cartels, according to Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
County officials hope to curb the growth of illegal activity in unincorporated areas by possibly lifting the current ban on legal production.
The Office of Cannabis Management is set to report back to the board with updated recommendations for cannabis retail, manufacturing, distribution, growth, testing, regulation, and enforcement in Los Angeles County in 120 days.
L.A. City Council Approves Plan To Divert $56.6 Million From LAPD
The Los Angeles City Council approved a plan Tuesday to divert $56.6 million from the police department’s budget, investing the funds in community programs and alternatives to policing.
Last year following the death of George Floyd and the movement to defund police, the City Council announced a plan to divert a total of $150 million from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).
The funding is now expected to go toward anti-gang initiatives, homeless services, universal income programs, jobs initiatives and education.
Earlier this year, the City Council approved $32.2 million of the diverted funds. Mayor Eric Garcetti initially vetoed the proposal, however, later signed off on a revised plan the council approved.
Funds from both of the approved diversion plans are expected to be distributed equally across all districts of Los Angeles.
City Council President Nury Martinez, who represents the east San Fernando Valley, has heard mixed support of the plan from the community.
Some communities “do want additional police officers. They feel safer that way,” Martinez said. “Some other communities don’t.”
In addition to the community programs, the plan allocated funds for “reimagined public safety” programs citywide, grant programs and quality of life services, according to the City report.
The mayor still needs to sign off on the plan approved by the City Council.
Los Angeles County Approves $1,000 Guaranteed Basic Income Pilot Program
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion Tuesday to develop a guaranteed basic income (GBI) pilot program.
The motion, co-authored by Supervisors Holly Mitchell and Sheila Kuehl, was passed by a 4-1 vote, with Supervisor Kathryn Barger opposing.
Barger cited concerns that the pilot program was not fully researched and vetted to be implemented in a large county.
Within 30 days, the county CEO is expected to establish the pilot program to serve at least 1,000 county residents for three years, according to the agenda.
A target population is set to receive, at a minimum, monthly income support of $1,000. Those in the pilot population are expected to include women living at or below the poverty level who were released from incarceration in the last seven years, transition-age youth head of households and domestic violence survivors.
On Monday, supervisors also passed a similar motion authored by Chair Hilda Solis aimed at creating a roadmap to implement the program.
“As the county transitions out of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will need to support the recovery of our residents coping with the disproportionate financial impact brought on by this past year to help rebuild our communities,” Solis said in a statement. “A well-crafted GBI program spearheaded by (Department of Public Social Services) has the potential to assist vulnerable populations to meet basic needs and be placed on a path to economic mobility.”
Governor Gavin Newsom’s May Revision Budget includes $35 million over five years to pay for universal basic income pilot programs. These pilot programs would be locally administered, require a local-match commitment, and target low-income residents, according to Solis.
The passage of the motion instructs the county’s Department of Public Social Services (DPSS), and in consultation with other departments as appropriate, to report back in 60 days on the process for implementing GBI, coordination with the state’s universal basic income program, what it takes to fund this program, any funding considerations, approvals needed, any required waivers, wrap-around services to enhance program outcomes including financial coaching and the populations that could be served.