California Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled Thursday a scaled back plan to address housing and homelessness in California as part of a revised budget that attempts to tackle a projected $54.3 billion deficit brought on by the economic impact of COVID-19.
“We’re going to be dealing with challenges we haven’t faced in some time,” Newsom said.
Under his revised plan, the state will use $750 million, which his office says was procured through a federal relief package, to buy hotels and motels that are now leased through Project Roomkey, a program to house homeless people during the coronavirus pandemic. The state will then turn them over to local governments to transition into permanent supportive housing.
“Purchasing the hotels is really a tremendous opportunity,” said Anya Lawler, a housing policy advocate with the Western Center on Law & Poverty.
What’s gone from the budget is a $1 billion homelessness fund Newsom originally proposed to pay for rental assistance, support communities to build more affordable housing, and help stabilize board and care homes.