California Gov. Gavin Newsom pledged to house and feed the world’s homeless population this week during a whirlwind “Comeback California” tour that is designed to stave off a September recall by angry voters.
The Golden State is already cracking under the weight of the nation’s largest homeless population and one of the worst economic climates post-COVID-19. With millions of middle-class residents and business owners fleeing to red states, those left behind have seen a burgeoning lower class emerge.
Gasoline is pushing $5 a gallon in some counties, 180,000 homeless pack into all the blue cities, and dilapidated freeways are strewn with trash.
Even the Atlantic outlined the hostile economic environment in a lengthy article titled “The California Dream is Dying.”
It’s against this backdrop that Newsom held a press conference Monday pledging $12 billion to combat homelessness on top of billions that have already been spent. People will be taken care of, and anyone who wants to avail themselves to the California dream is welcome, he said in response to a reporter who asked whether he expected the nation’s homeless to descend upon California with this new expenditure.
“It’s about getting people off the streets, out of incidents of crisis, and meeting people where they are and to the extent that people want to come here for new beginnings and all income levels, that’s part of the California dream,” Newsom said. “We have a responsibility to accommodate and enliven and inspire, and California’s dream is still alive and well.”
Newsom added: “I’m 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.”
California is the highest-taxed state in the nation, and buying a home is out of reach for the average resident. Newsom did not mention this but rather pointed to an $80 billion budget surplus that he said is enough money to help all achieve the American dream.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva listened to Newsom’s message and was not pleased with what he heard.
“As a private citizen, I support the [Newsom] recall,” he said.
Villanueva has tried to stand in the gap of rising crime and increased homelessness despite a $145 million “defund the police” cut to his budget in the current year.
“Those comments blew us away, we are trying to keep our heads above water, and he goes and says that?” Villanueva told the Washington Examiner. “When he invites the rest of the nation’s homeless to California, that is the death wish.”
Homicides in Los Angeles County are up 58% from last year, and newly elected District Attorney George Gascon refused to file a record 5,900 criminal cases brought by detectives this year, Villanueva said. Gascon ran on a platform of less prosecution and more community assistance for lawbreakers.
“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.”
“At the end of the day, we have to take accountability, responsibility, and do more, do better,” Newsom said during the press conference.
“And that’s what this budget intends to do, it’s about results,” he added.