California Governor Urges Clearing Of Homeless Camps, More ‘Compassion’

California Governor Urges Clearing Of Homeless Camps, More ‘Compassion’

“People shouldn’t be living out in the streets and sidewalks … and the notion that until everything is perfect, we can’t do anything [about encampments], I completely reject,” Gov. Gavin Newsom told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday.

Los Angeles Times:
Newsom: It’s ‘Not Acceptable’ For Homeless To Camp On Streets

Gov. Gavin Newsom expressed strong support Thursday for increased efforts around California to remove large homeless encampments, calling them unacceptable and saying the state will need more federal help to create additional housing and expand services for homeless people. Newsom’s comments come at a time of growing alarm over the homelessness crisis, which has become a focus of criticism by Republican candidates running to replace him in the upcoming recall election. (Oreskes, 8/5)

California Spending Billions To House Homeless In Hotels

Gov. Gavin Newsom has made tackling homelessness one of his top priorities. Now that the governor faces a recall election, Republican candidates have released their own plans to combat the crisis. John Cox wants to require unhoused people to receive any needed treatment for addiction or mental illness before they can get housing. Kevin Faulconer wants to build more shelters to make it easier to clear encampments. It’s not just Republicans who are exasperated. The mostly progressive Los Angeles City Council this month passed a controversial anti-camping measure to remove homeless encampments. (Weber, 8/5)

California Used COVID Funds To Build 6K Units To Combat Homelessness

California used COVID-19 finds to build 6,000 units to house the homeless, the Associated Press reported. Homekey is an outgrowth of Project Roomkey, which helped supply shelter for those susceptible to the coronavirus. Governor Gavin Newsom’s office said $800 million, most of which was federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act money, was spent on Homekey in 2020 to provide shelter for 8,200 people. (Gile, 8/4)

San Luis Obispo Tribune:
SLO County Homeless Shelter Hit By COVID Outbreak. What’S Being Done To Stop Spread?

A San Luis Obispo homeless shelter is experiencing a coronavirus outbreak involving dozens of people — prompting facilities throughout San Luis Obispo County to limit intake and institute rapid testing.40 Prado Homeless Services Center in San Luis Obispo has identified more than 30 positive COVID-19 cases since July 26, said Tara Kennon, a spokeswoman for the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department. (Holden, 8/4)

In other news about the homelessness crisis —

Fox News:
Denver Spends Far More On Homelessness Per Person Than K-12 Students, Veterans Affairs: Reports 

The city of Denver spends at least twice as much on homelessness per person as it does on K-12 public school students – and the spending crushes the veterans affairs budget in the state, a new study released Thursday found, according to a report. For comparison, the city reportedly spends between $41,679 and $104,201 on each person experiencing homelessness in a year while only $19,202 on each K-12 public school student over the same period of time. (Stimson, 8/5)

Casper Star Tribune:
Healthcare For The Homeless Launches Mobile Health Clinic

Pharmacy technician Lindsay Freeman captains the vessel — one of the few staff members brave enough to drive the behemoth. When she reaches her destination — a parking lot across from the Poverty Resistance thrift store, she deftly maneuvers through the narrow opening in the curb. Once parked, it takes a few minutes for the van to level, for the awning to unroll, for the generator to kick into gear. When the mechanical whir stops, they’re ready for patients. (Hughes, 8/1)

The Washington Post:
Officials Put The Wrong Man In A Mental Facility For 2 Years. When He Objected, They Called Him ‘Delusional.’

Joshua Spriestersbach fell asleep on a sidewalk one hot day in May 2017 while waiting for food outside a Honolulu homeless shelter. He woke up to a police officer arresting him for violating the city’s ban on lying down in public places. At least that’s what Spriestersbach thought. The officer actually arrested him because he believed Spriestersbach was a man named Thomas Castleberry, who had an arrest warrant out for allegedly violating probation in a 2006 drug case. It was the first mistake of many that led to Spriestersbach spending two years and eight months in jail and a mental institution for crimes he didn’t commit, according to a 36-page petition filed Monday by the Hawaii Innocence Project. (Edwards, 8/5)

The New York Times:
He Has Asthma And Cancer. But He Still Was Moved To A Crowded Shelter

Michael Garrett, 54 and homeless, has congestive heart failure, asthma and a defibrillator in his chest. He also has cancer, for which he is receiving chemo and radiation. And because of all that, he has a letter from the city telling him that he cannot be housed in a barracks-style group shelter, where 20 people often share a room. But early Thursday morning, that is exactly where Mr. Garrett was sent, in one of the latest glitches in New York City’s shelter system as it struggles to relocate 8,000 homeless people to group shelters from the hotels where they had been placed to stem the spread of Covid-19. (Newman, 8/5)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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