SACRAMENTO — California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed seven new laws on Wednesday aimed at addressing the state’s homelessness crisis, pleading with a skeptical public to have patience as the nation’s most wealthy and populous state struggles to keep people off the streets.
Among California’s myriad of problems — including wildfires, historic drought and a changing climate impacting them both — homelessness is perhaps the most visible, with tens of thousands of people living in encampments in cities large and small across the state.
California’s homelessness crisis was the top talking point among Newsom’s critics prior to the pandemic, a topic Newsom addressed in a big way when he devoted his entire “ State of the State “ address in 2020 to the issue.
In the past three years, California has spent more than $2.4 billion of state and federal money on a handful of major homelessness programs, with most of that money going to local governments for things like leasing hotels and motels for housing the homeless during the pandemic.
The programs have had success, but have done little to change public perception of the homelessness problem — a fact Newsom acknowledged during a news conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
“We live in a situational world where people want to see results immediately,” he said. “But when it comes to these issues, it takes years and years to see those results.”