Critics Slam Newsom’s ‘National Model’ Claim as California’s Homeless Crisis Worsens

Newsom April 2024 | Source:

Governor Gavin Newsom of California has come under fire after claiming the state is a “national model” for addressing homelessness, despite significant evidence to the contrary. This comes in the wake of his announcement of a $3.3 billion fund to combat homelessness.

Why It Matters:
California’s approach to homelessness affects the entire nation, as nearly one-third of all homeless individuals in the U.S. reside in the state.

Who It Impacts:
This impacts taxpayers, homeless individuals, and local communities in California, as well as policy makers nationwide.

Governor Gavin Newsom announced a substantial $3.3 billion initiative aimed at combating homelessness in California, touting the state’s approach as a “national model.” During the announcement, Newsom highlighted a 30% decrease in veteran homelessness since 2012, asserting that California has made significant strides.

However, the reality of California’s homelessness crisis paints a different picture. A 2023 federal report revealed that 28% of the nation’s homeless population resides in California, with the state accounting for roughly half of the country’s total number of people sleeping on the streets. Los Angeles alone, with a staggering 65,111 homeless individuals, saw its homelessness rate increase by 9% in 2023 compared to the previous year. The state’s unsheltered homeless population stands at 123,000, significantly higher than Florida’s 15,000.

This announcement follows the narrow passage of Proposition 1 in March, a $6.4 billion bond measure aimed at building treatment facilities and permanent supportive housing for individuals with mental health and addiction challenges. Proposition 1 also proposed reallocating 30% of the revenue from a longstanding tax on personal incomes over $1 million, traditionally used for mental health services, to housing initiatives. The proposition passed by a slim margin of 50.2% to 49.8%, amidst criticisms that it could jeopardize funding for essential mental health services.

Despite the initiative’s ambitious goals, Newsom’s declaration of California as a model for the nation drew widespread criticism on social media. Detractors pointed to the ongoing homelessness crisis as evidence of mismanagement and ineffective use of resources. Comments included, “The model: We don’t know what we did or where the money went,” and, “Newsom is right, we are a national model, but in the negative sense. Let the nation see us as a dire warning of how not to handle homelessness.” Others highlighted the financial gains of nonprofit executives amid the crisis, further questioning the efficacy of the state’s strategies.

Among the critics was Rep. Kevin Kiley (R-CA), who succinctly summarized the sentiment by calling Newsom’s claim “the height of delusion.” This statement reflects a broader skepticism about the state’s handling of the homelessness issue and raises questions about the allocation and impact of the significant funds being directed towards it.

While the decline in veteran homelessness is a positive development, the overall situation in California suggests that the state’s model is far from being a successful blueprint for the nation. The state’s efforts, though well-funded, seem insufficient in addressing the root causes of homelessness and providing sustainable solutions.

The persistence of high homelessness rates in California underscores the need for a more effective strategy. It highlights the importance of transparency in funding allocations and the necessity of addressing mental health services adequately. As taxpayers and policymakers scrutinize the results of these initiatives, the challenge remains to find a comprehensive solution that genuinely reduces homelessness and provides lasting support for those in need.