WSJ: California Spends Billions on Homelessness, with Little to Show

Gavin Newsom hands up (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times via Getty)
Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times via Getty

The State of California and various municipalities are spending billions of dollars to address the growing problem of homelessness, but with little to show for the effort, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In a front-page exposé, the Journal reported Saturday that efforts to clear homeless encampments and provide shelter for their residents are hampered by bureaucracy and the refusal of many residents to move indoors:

The number of homeless people in California grew about 50% between 2014 and 2022. The state, which accounts for 12% of the U.S. population, has about half of the nation’s unsheltered homeless, an estimated 115,000 people, according to federal and state data last year. It also has among the highest average rent and median home prices in the U.S.

California spent a record $17 billion combating homelessness in the past four fiscal years. For the state budget year starting in July, Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed another $3.7 billion.

Voters in Los Angeles and San Francisco, which have some of the largest homeless populations in California, were unhappy enough about it to approve taxes costing them billions of dollars to fund anti-homelessness programs and housing in recent years. So far, cost overruns and delays have left little to show for the money.

The high cost of housing is one factor, which leaves some working people unable to afford rent in the San Francisco Bay area or in greater Los Angeles. Drugs and mental illness are also factors. And for others, life on the street simply involves more freedom: they are reluctant to give up pets, for example, when moving indoors.

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 30, 2022: Homeless encampments of tents hidden underneath Route I-80 along Roseville Road in Sacramento, California Wednesday March 30, 2022. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Politicians have begun to address the problem, with newly-inaugurated L.A. Mayor Karen Bass setting a first-year goal of reducing the homeless population by some 40%, with the 2028 Summer Olympics looming.

But others have said drastic intervention by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is needed.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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