California is planning to make historic investments to address the housing crisis, including a goal by Gov. Gavin Newsom to “effectively end family homelessness” over the next five years.
“What we’re announcing here today is truly historic, unprecedented, not only in California history but in American history,” Newsom said, adding that the funds are a “multiple” of what other states have invested in addressing homelessness. “We can solve homelessness once and for all.”
If approved by legislators, as expected, the funds would include $3.5 billion for new housing and rental support for families, as well as $8.75 billion to convert hotels, motels and other shelters, as well as build new affordable housing.
The state is notably expanding its Project Roomkey and Homekey, which were created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and respectively provided shelter to about 36,000 people and opened up 6,000 housing units in the past year. Newsom called the projects a “game changer” in how they sped up the usually slow permitting and approval processes to convert or build shelters and affordable housing.
In total, the state’s plan would create an estimated 46,000 new housing units in the coming years.
California has long faced an affordable housing crisis and has seen its rates of homelessness increase in recent years. People of color are disproportionately represented among California’s homeless.
The state has more than 160,000 people experiencing homelessness — more than any other state in the nation — according to a 2020 report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The proposed funds to tackle homelessness are part of the governor’s $100 billion “California Comeback Plan,” paid for by a significant surplus in the state budget. The plan also includes an additional $600 stimulus check expected to go out to most Californians, many of whom are still struggling from the economic effects of the coronavirus crisis.