While Santa Clarita Valley legislators applauded Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stand on making homelessness a priority during his Wednesday State of the State address, the solutions offered raised concerns among local representatives.
The 2019 homeless count in Santa Clarita indicated that its homeless population increased 61% from that of the previous year, echoing data reported across multiple cities in California, while the numbers decreased in most states.
“This crisis was not created overnight, and it will not be solved overnight — or even in one year,” the Democratic governor said. “But as a state, we must do everything we can to ensure no Californian is homeless. We must replace California’s scattershot approach with a coordinated crisis-level response.”
Newsom challenged legislators to cut back on environmental regulations that were hindering new housing production for individuals facing homelessness and called for $750 million into the California Access to Housing Fund, which would cover solutions such as temporary rent subsidies and new housing models. The governor said the state will offer at no cost 286 state properties, such as vacant lots, to local governments for homeless housing, as well as deploy additional travel trailers to more counties.
His administration has invested about $1.5 billion to help counties and cities address their own homeless populations, but some legislators, including Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, believe local control is lacking.
“I have significant concerns with proposals which limit local control and the ability of our city and county governments to address local challenges with locally driven solutions,” she said in a statement. “I look forward to sharing these concerns with Gov. Newsom. I will work with my colleagues to ensure that increased state investment is outcome-driven but honors local control.”
Via telephone, state Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, said Newsom “talked a lot about working together, but we have yet to see that. I think we live in a one-party state and it’s his party. I think he understands the challenges but he needs to be engaged. We will see.”
Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Agua Dulce, took issue with Newsom’s approach to accountability, saying Newsom “was really strong in blaming others for their failures. There was a minimal emphasis on what has been done that’s been effective,” but he did appreciate the governor prioritizing homelessness and mental health.
On mental health, state Sen. Henry Stern, D-Calabasas, said in a statement, “We look forward to working with him, our counties, frontline service workers and the people we’re trying to save to ensure that, as we take responsibility for a comprehensive solution to homelessness by tackling the housing crisis and modernizing our mental health care system, we’re also ‘helping people into the life-saving treatment that they need at the precise moment they need it.’”