Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom threw open the doors to the world’s homeless during his whirlwind “Comeback California” tour.
The already state is buckling under the weight of the nation’s largest homeless population. California has seen millions of residents and business owners flee amidst one of the worst post-Covid economic climates.
Newsom, meanwhile, pledged $12 billion to fight homelessness on top of the billions that have already been spent to feed and house the homeless population in his state.
“It’s about getting people off the streets, out of incidents of crisis, and meeting people where they are to the extent that people want to come here for new beginnings and all income levels, that’s part of the California dreamm,” he said.
“We have a responsibility to accommodate and enliven and inspire, and California’s dream is still alive and well.”
When asked by a reporter whether or not he expected a surge of homeless to descend on California, Newsom said that homeless who come to California would be taken care of, and anyone who wants part of the California dream is welcome.
“I am proud of people from around the world looking at California again for opportunity, and that, again, that should not just be for certain people.
“All people should aspire to that California dream regardless of their income level and regarding their lot in life,” Newsom said.
L.A. Sheriff: ‘Gasoline on a fire’
California is among the highest-taxed states in the United States, with gasoline hovering near $5 per gallon in some areas, freeways falling apart and strewn with garbage, and an estimated 180,000 homeless spread across the state, many in larger cities.
Despite increasing crime and violence across the state, Newsom said that the $80 billion budget surplus in the state would be enough to help all achieve the American dream. Newsom faces a September recall election.
Alex Villanueva, the Los Angeles County Sheriff, heard Newsom’s message and was not pleased.
“Those comments blew us away, we are trying to keep our heads above water, and he goes and says that? When he invites the rest of the nation’s homeless to California, that is the death wish,” Villanueva said.
The sheriff’s department is trying to fill the gap, he said, balancing an increasing homeless population, a rising crime rate, and a $145 million “defund the police” cut to his current year’s budget.
Los Angeles County homicides are up 58% from last year. Additionally, newly-elected District Attorney George Gascon is refusing to file 5,900 criminal cases worked by detectives over the past year.
Gascon campaigned on a platform of more community assistance for lawbreakers and less prosecution.
“With [Gascon’s] privileged upbringing, this doesn’t impact him,” Villanueva said.
“I have homeless with mental illness on the streets who attack residents, set their houses on fire, and run over them with cars. Just the sheer level of violence that comes with the increase in population of homeless is like pouring gasoline on the fire.”