March 5, 2024
California Gavin Newsom announced a million-dollar effort this week to remove homeless encampments across the state amid a housing crisis.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday said the state will make nearly $300 million available to local municipalities to clear out homeless encampments and move the homeless into housing.

The funds will go to the California Department of Transportation, or Caltrans, to remove camps on state property and assist the homeless with resources and finding other places to live.

“I think we can all agree that we need to do more to clean up encampments,” Newsom said in a virtual news briefing.

“We weren’t just cleaning up encampments – out of sight, out of mind – and displacing people, removing people, but that we’re trying to resolve the underlying issues in the first place and actually support people in getting them back on their feet to self-sufficiency,” he added. 

CALIFORNIA CITY REMOVES HOMELESS IN BEAUTIFICATION BEFORE BIDEN’S SUMMIT WITH CHINESE PRESIDENT XI

Gov Gavin Newsom

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks alongside other local officials and local officials at the opening of a recently completed Clean California beautification project. (California Governor Gavin Newsom YouTube channel)

He added that the funds are not a “blank check” and that cities and counties will be expected to reach certain benchmarks and goals. 

Caltrans says it welcomes the funds to help clean up camps near freeways, park and rides and bike paths. 

“Caltrans is working to connect people experiencing homelessness on its right of way to move to a more secure and stable housing situation offered by local partners,” Alisa Becerra, a Caltrans deputy director, told Fox San Francisco

California state Sen. Brian Dahle, a Republican, pushed back on statements by Newsom that he cleared more than 5,600 homeless encampments across the state. 

“The governor didn’t clear these homeless encampments — they just moved them down the street,” he said. “California spends more tax dollars per homeless person than we do on our students. The homeless crisis is a national embarrassment. This governor needs to focus on real results instead of chasing presidential aspirations and gas-lighting Californians.” 

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Homeless clean-up in San Francisco

A cleaning crew member works at the Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood of San Francisco on Oct. 20. San Francisco cracked down on hot dog vendors and urging people living on the street to seek shelter as it raced to prepare for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit and reverse its image as a city in decline.  (Loren Elliott/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Homelessness has long been a top issue for California voters and elected officials. Residents and business owners have often complained of large encampments blocking sidewalks, creating more crime and being a haven for open-air drug use. 

San Francisco recently removed homeless camps around the city ahead of last week’s vital U.S.-China summit in which President Biden met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. 

While many applauded the effort, others voiced frustration of the cleanup to glam up the streets.

“At first I thought… the media was making a way bigger deal out of this than it needed to be,” CrossFit Golden Gate gym owner Danielle Rabkin told “FOX & Friends First“. “Of course, we needed to clean high-security zones. But then I realized they were cleaning outside those high-security zones. And then that Newsom clip surfaced, and it was abundantly obvious that they were cleaning because of optics and not security.”

Newsom has admitted the beautification project was prompted by the visitation of world leaders. 

Homeless in Los Angeles

Homeless people stand with their belongings in front of an outpatient mental health clinic in Los Angeles, California, on Dec. 6, 2022. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

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“I know folks are saying, ‘Oh they’re just cleaning up this place because all those fancy leaders are coming to town.’ That’s true, because it’s true — but it’s also true for months and months and months before APEC [Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit], we’ve been having conversations,” the governor said.

“It is extremely frustrating,” Rabkin said of the remarks. “He doesn’t care about having clean streets for the constituents he serves. But at the snap of the fingers, things are clean. Just in time for this conference.”