Newsom Faces Backlash Over Comment About Being A ‘National Model’

Governor Gavin Newsom of California has come under fire for his recent declaration that his state is a ‘national model’ for tackling homelessness.

The Democrat made this claim while announcing a $3.3 billion fund for California counties to address the issue, including a mental health initiative he pushed for. However, his remarks have sparked criticism and ridicule as statistics paint a different picture of California’s success in addressing homelessness.

During a press conference focused on his homelessness initiative, Newsom touted the state’s 30 percent drop in veteran homelessness over the past 12 years as evidence of their progress. Yet, according to a 2023 federal report, California still holds 28 percent of the nation’s total number of unhoused individuals. This figure represents a 40 percent increase from five years ago, highlighting the state’s ongoing struggle with this issue.

The governor’s assertion of being a ‘national model’ may stem from a mental health provision he championed that was passed by voters in March. Proposition 1 aims to expand access to mental health treatment and provide housing for individuals at risk of becoming homeless, including veterans. It will also impose strict rules on how counties can spend funds received from a tax on millionaires. However, the provision was divisive, passing by a narrow margin and with heavy financial backing from Newsom.

Critics argue that the legislation is too costly, with billions allocated for only 4,350 housing units and 6,800 addiction treatment beds. Newsom, on the other hand, defends the bill as a major step towards streamlining California’s response to homelessness. He pointed out that five years ago, there was no comprehensive strategy or plan in place, and the state was not actively involved in addressing the issue.

In his speech, Newsom acknowledged that the state’s previous mental health bill no longer suited the current situation, describing it as ‘listless.’ He further expressed the need for the state’s involvement, stating that cities and counties cannot handle homelessness alone. While the governor remains optimistic about the success of his program, his proclamation that California’s model should be emulated by other states has sparked a backlash from conservatives.

Congressman Kevin Kiley called Newsom’s remarks ‘the height of delusion,’ while others viewed California as a cautionary tale for other states to learn from. Despite Newsom’s claim of a decline in veteran homelessness, other metrics suggest otherwise.

In Los Angeles, which has the highest number of homeless people in the nation, there was a nine percent increase in the past year alone. Additionally, California still accounts for 28 percent of all homeless individuals in the country and has the highest number of unsheltered people, almost eight times that of the second-worst state.

While the state did see a 30 percent drop in veteran homelessness in the past 12 years, the overall homeless population has increased by 30.5 percent in the same period. California has over 42,000 more homeless individuals today than it did in 2007. Critics argue that the governor’s claim of a ‘national model’ is premature and overlooks the ongoing challenges and struggles faced by the state in addressing homelessness.


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