Collier Gwin, a San Francisco art gallery owner, went viral after using a hose to spray a homeless woman. He had previously called the police, but the woman was released back onto the street. He expressed regret, understanding it was wrong, but also voicing the frustration of millions of Californians over the encampments.
Gov. Gavin Newsom acknowledged this sentiment, saying people are dying on the streets and the encampments need to be cleaned up and responsibility taken.
Newsom and the Legislature have allocated a record-breaking $17.5 billion for housing and services to California’s homeless population in the last two state budgets, amounting to around $100,000 per person, as stated in an article published by CalMatters on January 15, 2023.
Despite of this, the homeless population continues to grow. The new budget proposes an additional few billion dollars, while also emphasizing that local governments need to do more. This has been a major theme of Newsom’s in recent months.
In a report by Lost Angeles Times on November 18, 2022, Newsom rejected local governments’ plans to reduce homelessness, then released state aid after a meeting with local leaders. His 2021 budget suggests that cities who don’t meet their state quotas for housing zoning will lose state funding for homelessness programs.
Newsom warned that if the encampments are not cleared up, he would struggle to convince the Legislature to provide more funding.
Local government officials are not pleased with the threat of losing state financing for homelessness programs. The League of California Cities issued a statement opposing one-time investments and calling for an ongoing state funding approach with clear roles and responsibilities for all levels of government. Governor is aware that if the crisis is not solved, it will have a negative impact on his legacy and future political career.