Now that the Recall Newsom Campaign is gaining some serious momentum, our governor has devised yet another one of his classic smoke-and-mirrors plans to once again try to fool the public into thinking that he really is going to do something for our state as opposed to promoting himself.
His latest feel-good proposal was outlined on the morning of May 11 in several widely publicized press and TV releases. It promises to take another $12 billion of your hard-earned tax dollars, solve the California homelessness crisis, and functionally end family homelessness within 5 years.
Without divulging details about how he is going to do this, or even acknowledging that family units might only make up 20 to 30 percent of all the 161,000 homeless individuals in the state of California, Governor Gavin Newsom once again plunged head-on into the posturing and posing mode of communication that he has utilized so successfully in his past attempts to “sell the sizzle and not the steak.”
We residents here in San Francisco know all too well what he is up to. We are now paying a price for homeless services that is 10 times higher than what we were paying for those same services 20 years ago, thanks to Newsom’s clever “Care Not Cash” program in the early 2000s.
We are treating the same number of homeless individuals in San Francisco today that we were 20 years ago. Newsom didn’t tell the voters that the “care” part of his plan was going to cost 10 to 20 times (approximately $3,000 to $5,000 a month per homeless individual) more than the “cash” that was being dispersed to the unfortunate homeless individuals ($326 a month per homeless individual), nor did he reveal that the “care” that replaced the cash would all be administered through his favored and politically connected nonprofits.
That’s where the money went—not to the homeless themselves, but into the coffers of the chosen homeless industry service providers, who in turn are more than willing to donate to Newsom’s campaigns.
Wasn’t this a wonderful way to treat our less fortunate brothers and sisters? Strip them of the little dignity that they have left in determining their own finances by taking the cash away, then entrap them in a homeless industry that can only grow like a cancer because it is designed to do so.
In San Francisco today, the city and county are spending about $84,000 per year per homeless person. On the statewide level, we are currently spending about $74,500 per homeless individual per year, and the crisis is only getting worse!
Ask yourself—what is wrong here? Could it be that the services we are providing are not working to reduce homelessness and are only attracting and enslaving our less fortunate brothers and sisters in a particular way of life?
Once people are caught up in the homeless industry service cycle, there is nowhere for them to turn, because the solutions that our wonderfully caring politicians have sold to the voters thus far have not worked. They have created an industry that feeds upon itself by institutionalizing the homeless in a moneymaking industry that has been created by our elected for political expediency.
Now Newsom is trying to sell another institutional homeless scam to the voters on a statewide basis.
No amount of money is going to solve the homeless crisis in California until we start addressing the root causes that have caused so many individuals to live homeless in our state.
In my experience, research, and work, I came to realize that many of the people classified in our “homeless” category were individuals who, for varied and different reasons, needed specialized help. I also came to realize that there is a fine line between helping and hurting them, as it is very easy to propose programs that sound good to the casual listener but in reality would only entrap homeless people in a way of life that would preclude them from ever breaking the cycle of homelessness.
Many people are homeless because they are addicted to alcohol and drugs; they need our help in the form of programs that address their addiction.
Many people are suffering from mental illness or depression; they need our help in the form of medical programs that address those specific needs.
Many people and families genuinely have fallen on bad times; they certainly need our help.
Many people are simply “gaming the system”; they do not need our help.
Identifying and treating the specific needs of each of these groups in a way that helps them on the road back to a positive and productive lifestyle is the answer. One shoe just doesn’t fit all the needs, and that is exactly where Newsom’s proposals fall short.
It sounds great to say that he is going to put a roof over the heads of all the homeless, and that should solve the problem, but then what? It is extremely naïve or misleading to even make such a statement. Without providing the homeless with the wherewithal or specific help to treat the particular cause that has beset them, programs will accomplish nothing but keeping them captive in an industry that allows service providers to make more money the more homeless people there are.
A February state audit showed that California spent around $13 billion last year on 41 programs addressing homelessness, without any evidence to show what was effective.
In his confusing and very specious press announcements this past week, Newsom implied that he can solve the state’s homeless crisis in 5 years by spending another $12 billion on housing and related services. He wants to spend $8.75 billion to convert hotels, motels, and other properties into housing for people in need; and another $3.5 billion for rent subsidies, housing, and resources for homeless families.
By his own numbers, he estimates a cost of $150,000 per unit to retrofit them as homeless units. To shelter the state’s 161,000 homeless people would cost $24.15 billion.
I watched the press conference in awe as Newsom soon realized that his numbers were way off. He immediately pivoted to “solving” the homeless families’ shelter needs in 5 years.
The advocates would like you to think that 30 to 40 percent of homeless people are families. I find that very hard to believe, but assuming that is true, it would likely cost a minimum of $9.5 billion just to address homeless families’ shelter needs alone.
My question is, just whom does this guy think he is fooling? I know people are very busy with their own lives and work during these trying times, and sometimes details about certain programs escape them, so they rely on the words of those they have chosen to represent them. However, I certainly hope that people don’t fall for this type of false rhetoric again.
It is so unfair to the taxpayers whose money will be squandered with these fake schemes. It is absolutely cruel to exploit the homeless crisis and use the homeless themselves as fodder.
If Newsom is allowed to actually do what he is proposing, in five years we will be spending approximately $150,000 per homeless individual per year on solutions that have shown themselves to not work.
The solution to our homeless crisis does not exist within the lofty and exploitative pipe dreams being put forth by incompetent politicians.
We must institute a system that identifies those with particular and specific needs, who truly want our help, and directs them to effective and appropriate assistance.
The system should incorporate residency and means testing, in order to establish genuine priority to our state’s less fortunate and not be an open door policy for people from all over the country as it is today.
We can no longer afford to tolerate those individuals who abuse the system or those politicians who use the system for political gain.
The amount of money spent on the system could be “pegged” to a percentage of the state’s budget, and any change to that amount could be subject to public approval.
If we are to continue with the irresponsible social programs that we have put in place, then the federal government must also weigh in, as we are servicing an inordinate number of homeless individuals from all over the country.
There must be a litmus test for the nonprofit service providers based upon a proven track record of effectiveness and cases solved.
Lastly, we can incorporate in the system the many wonderful programs that have already been created by faith-based organizations, as their outreach is based on the concepts of charity and motivation for those treated, and not what I like to term “internal nonprofit-profit.”
Let me be very clear here. I am not against providing care or housing for those who need it, but as a former elected representative who takes fiduciary responsibility of public monies seriously, I want to know exactly where and how much the services provided are going to cost the taxpayers who ultimately foot the bill.
You, the public, have the right to know exactly how your money is being spent and should not be led down the garden path by incompetent and self-serving politicians.
This latest proposal that Newsom is spinning is nothing but another deception and a lie, as it will not solve the homeless crisis as he is promising. At best, it could only put a temporary roof over the heads of maybe 20 percent of the homeless population in California without addressing any of the root causes of the homeless crisis.
My heart goes out to those who truly need our help for legitimate reasons, and also to you for repeatedly being asked to pay for such political foolishness.
Tony Hall is a former supervisor in the City and County of San Francisco.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.