Newsom Unveils Travel Trailers for Homeless in Oakland

Newsom will be in Oakland Thursday afternoon for the final stop on his homelessness tour, where he's been showcasing solutions to address California's growing homeless population.  (Sruti Mamidanna/KQED)

Homeless families and youth looking to get out of the cold this winter may now be able to move into one of more than a dozen travel trailers that were dropped off Thursday at a vacant lot in East Oakland.

The site is the first of roughly 100 which the state plans to make available for temporary housing, homeless services, or even permanent affordable housing.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, who unveiled the trailers Thursday as part of a nearly week-long state tour to speak with homeless service and mental health providers, described California's growing homeless population as "the issue of our time."

The state saw double-digit increases in the number of people experiencing homelessness between 2018 and 2019 and is now home to more than a quarter of the nation's homeless population, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In Oakland, the homeless population grew 47% between 2017 and 2019, according to Alameda County's biennial homeless count.

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"It's happened on our watch," he said. "And we need to meet this moment."

The tour follows the release Newsom's proposed budget, which he unveiled last week, that included $750 million in a new state housing fund to pay for rent subsidies, help communities build more affordable housing and support board and care homes.

He also proposed $695 million to expand Medi-Cal and reform it so that the provision of medical care also takes into account access to stable housing, incarceration and other environmental factors that impact health. Some of the Medi-Cal funds may also be used to pay for housing and supportive services for the chronically homeless.

"None of us are naive that 15 former FEMA trailers now in state control and state-owned are going to 'solve' the crisis," Newsom said Thursday. "It's about catalyzing our focus, catalyzing investment and beginning to leverage our resources."

Nine of the 15 trailers in East Oakland will remain at the lot to house families, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said Thursday. The remaining six will be moved to another site, where they will house homeless youth, she said.

The trailers will be at both sites until at least September, Newsom said.