California will spend nearly $300 million to clear homeless encampments, many of them near highways, in Governor Gavin Newsom's (D.) latest move to address rampant homelessness in his state.
"Since day one, combatting homelessness has been a top priority," Newsom said in a Monday announcement. "Encampments are not safe for the people living in them, or for community members around them. The state is giving locals hundreds of millions of dollars to move people into housing and clean up these persistent and dangerous encampments."
The state will award to local governments $299 million in grants, half of which will "be prioritized for encampments on the state right-of-way, helping to make sure the state’s highways remain safe and secure for everyone." Having already spent $415 million on similar projects, the state has cleared 5,679 encampments near its right-of-way since 2021, the release said. The new funding will go toward assisting 10,000 people, according to the state's estimate.
"Housing is the solution to homelessness and these grants will help our local partners assist their unhoused neighbors move from dangerous and unsightly encampments into safe and stable places they can call home," California Interagency Council on Homelessness executive officer Meghan Marshall said in the announcement.
California has been notorious for its homelessness problem. Experts have attributed its difficulties in part to its so-called Housing First policies, which emphasize subsidized housing without requiring treatment for substance abuse and mental illness, the Washington Free Beacon reported in August.