Newsom's big move on homelessness may be just in political time, new poll suggests | News | Palo Alto Online |

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Newsom's big move on homelessness may be just in political time, new poll suggests

20% of Californians surveyed cited homelessness as most important issue for state to work on this year.

Gov. Gavin Newsom kicked off 2020 by pledging to plow an extra $1.4 billion into homeless services, proposing a state constitutional amendment to make it easier to sue cities that fail to provide shelter for their unhoused populations, and embarking on a statewide "homelessness tour" to visit shelters and other providers.

Homelessness, he said last week as he unveiled his proposed budget on Jan. 10, is "the issue that defines our times."

According to a poll released on Jan. 15, more Californians than ever agree.

Twenty percent of Californians surveyed by the Public Policy Institute of California cited homelessness as the most important issue for the governor and Legislature to work on this year.

That's a record, said the institute's president, Mark Baldassare: "It's never, ever been in the double digits."

Another 10% of Californians named "housing costs (and) availability."

When the institute asked the same question last year, only 6% of respondents named homelessness at the state's top policy priority.

And when the new poll focused in on likely voters, the results were even more emphatic: 23% named homelessness their chief concern, with another 11% citing housing.

The survey also suggested that Newsom's approval among likely voters may be inching up. It showed presidential candidate Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders surging with California's Democratic electorate (particularly young voters), making him the nominal frontrunner — but adjusting for the poll's margin of error, he's in a three-way tie with former Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. And the poll found that California Republicans largely support President Trump, but tend to part ways with him on immigration.

The survey was conducted Jan. 3 to 12 — mostly before the state's Democratic governor announced his new plans on homelessness, although after President Trump has repeatedly lambasted California for allowing the problem to worsen.

"I don't think its something that's coming up because they're reading about it or because the president has tweeted about," Baldassare said. "It's on people's minds because they're seeing it in their daily lives."

Homelessness is not a new problem in California, but data collected by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development suggests it has grown more acute in recent years. At last count, more than 150,000 Californians are now living in their cars, in shelters or on the sidewalks and below freeway underpasses — more than at any time since at least 2007.

Other poll findings:

• Good news for (this year's) Prop. 13: Among respondents, 53% said that they would vote for a ballot measure authorizing the state to borrow $15 billion to expand and revamp school and university facilities. That's not a huge buffer of support for backers of Prop. 13 (mostly building trade groups and teachers unions). But although support for ballot measures tends to decline as Election Day approaches, that generally isn't the case for bonds.

• Newsom back on top (narrowly): A slim majority (51%) of Californians surveyed approve of Gov. Newson, as do a plurality of likely voters (with 49% approving and 42% disapproving). That's good news for the governor: In the last two Public Policy Institute surveys, Newsom was underwater, with disapproval exceeding his approval.

• The Bernie surge is real: Consistent with other public polls, this one validates news of a bump in Sanders' support across California. He held the support of 27% of likely voters surveyed — an increase of 10 percentage points since November. Coming in just behind Sanders were Biden (24%) and Warren (23%). Today's poll also reaffirmed that Sanders' base skews young. Of voters between 18 and 45 years old, 45% are backing Bernie and 39% believe he is the candidate most likely to beat Trump.

• California Republicans are different: President Trump remains popular with the vast majority of California Republican likely voters. But the same can't be said of some of his signature policies. Sixty-two percent of GOP respondents said they support protecting undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children from deportation. And 60% say they generally agree that undocumented immigrants of all kinds should be allowed to remain in the country. Another 18% oppose the president's border wall proposal. And with an impeachment trial looming, 11% believe that the U.S. Senate should remove Trump from office.

Related content:

Learn the facts about homelessness in California via CalMatters' in-depth explainer.

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CalMatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics. Ben Christopher can be emailed at ben@calmatters.org.

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Comments

27 people like this
Posted by Neal
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 21, 2020 at 9:54 am

Let me guess. After spending an additional 1.4 billion dollars on homelessness we'll still have the same number of homeless.


27 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 21, 2020 at 11:08 am

"Let me guess. After spending an additional 1.4 billion dollars on homelessness we'll still have the same number of homeless."

No - we will have more. Spending $1.4 billion on housing for the homeless at $700,000 per housing unit is only 2,000 housing units. That won't move the needle at all. We are already spending something like $80,000 per homeless person per year in San Francisco - without addressing the root of the problem for citizens we need to help the most. It's not primarily a money problem.

For that portion of the homeless community that are chronic hard drug abusers and severely mentally ill, we have to be willing to take the hard step of forcing these people into inpatient treatment programs. It does not appear our leaders are willing to do this, and if we don't, no amount of money will solve the problem.

For these folks, who are the bulk of the people pooing on the streets, leaving hundreds of thousands of used needles strewn about, committing retail theft and property crime at scale, and consuming massive amounts of very expensive emergency resources - housing is not the core problem. The core problem for this group is treating their mental illness and addiction and keeping them treated.

The average life expectancy of a homeless meth addict is something like 3 years. Literally tens of thousands of people are dying on the street because we are unwilling to force people who cannot take care of themselves into treatment. What we are doing today is the opposite of compassionate.

Once they are treated and can take care of themselves, then we can worry about housing them. What I keep hearing from homeless advocates is that the problem is primarily housing - I just could not disagree more.

Now a separate topic is how to help homeless people who are down on their luck, but are not mentally ill or drug addicted. I would argue that we should be offering temporary housing and training and child care for these people. But it's foolish to spend $700,000 per housing unit in San Francisco or Los Angeles for these folks - can we not provide housing and job training and child care in less expensive areas of the state to help them? We need to be willing to say - hey we will help you get back on your feet, but we can't afford to do that in San Francisco, or LA or Santa Monica or Palo Alto, so we need to relocate you somewhere in the state that is more affordable.

So to me starting to really address the homeless problem all starts with policy and not with money.


13 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 21, 2020 at 5:18 pm

Anyone see a trend here? I excuse you if you’re new to California. Gavin Newsom was mayor of San Francisco. Now he is Governor of the State of California. His second marriage is to a billionaire heiress. So - he cares not one whit about us highly taxed middle to upper middle income earners. WE are expected to pay ever more for increasing numbers of street dwellers who move here for a wide range of freebies. Hundreds of millions have been spent, only to attract more recipients.
Before you attack me for being heartless, let me assure you Imam charitable and agree with assisting those down on their luck, ill, etc. to take steps to improve their situation. But hanging out on the street isn’t viable.
Public health must have some reasonable priority.
Public safety must have some reasonable priority.
Still, I heavily oppose persons taking drugs and becoming addicted to anything. That is usually a choice. Persons need to take some responsibility for themselves. If you have a criminal record, that’s your problem and you better try hard to remedy that and improve yourself.
Thus isn’t The Great Depression nor Flint, Michigan when numerous low skills factories closed. That, understandably, would deserve huge public attention and funds.
Taxpayer funds under Newsom in S.F. (And under other mayor before and after him) appear to have been largely frittered away. Ever more persons are attracted to S.F. For handouts and casual on-sidewalk living.
Going to a shelter necessitates for the safety of others that one does not do drugs or attack others. One usually must accept counseling. But, some homeless won’t follow basic rules. So, I guess society should completely fall apart, go bankrupt, be filthy and disease ridden, have more of us become crime victims as we endlessly carer to those who choose a truly unacceptable lifestyle of casual street living, sometimes crime, filth, drugs, liquor.
Of course, those with severe mental health issues must be cajoled to accept treatment and some sort of plan.
But many of us who have been accosted know full well this usually *isn’t* a case of a family being thrown out onto the streets owing to a hardship layoff.
Make better choices and tour lot in life will improve.
Now, we’re lectured we should spend our taxpayer funds on another massive, unaccountable expenditure for “the homeless!?”
Please, do not vote for Newsom for President. He wants to be President. Smug and ineffective, condescending politician.
There are many better choices for our elected leaders.


8 people like this
Posted by Two Different Worlds
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 22, 2020 at 2:09 pm

> ...the homeless community that are chronic hard drug abusers and severely mentally ill, we have to be willing to take the hard step of forcing these people into inpatient treatment programs. It does not appear our leaders are willing to do this, and if we don't, no amount of money will solve the problem.

For these folks, who are the bulk of the people pooing on the streets, leaving hundreds of thousands of used needles strewn about, committing retail theft and property crime at scale, and consuming massive amounts of very expensive emergency resources - housing is not the core problem. The core problem for this group is treating their mental illness and addiction and keeping them treated.

The average life expectancy of a homeless meth addict is something like 3 years. Literally tens of thousands of people are dying on the street because we are unwilling to force people who cannot take care of themselves into treatment. What we are doing today is the opposite of compassionate.

Once they are treated and can take care of themselves, then we can worry about housing them.

>> Now a separate topic is how to help homeless people who are down on their luck, but are not mentally ill or drug addicted. I would argue that we should be offering temporary housing and training and child care for these people.

^^^Spot on Dan as there is a huge difference between 'displaced' homeless (due to loss of job, rent increase etc.) VS 'derelict' homeless.

The 'derelict' homeless should be conserved by the state & institutionalized where they receive treatment for their addictions.

The 'displaced' homeless should receive financial assistance towards getting re-settled.

Derelict homeless are not entitled to basic civil rights as they are generally incoherent of them in the first place.


5 people like this
Posted by Two Different Worlds
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 22, 2020 at 2:51 pm

> I excuse you if you’re new to California. Gavin Newsom was mayor of San Francisco. Now he is Governor of the State of California. His second marriage is to a billionaire heiress. So - he cares not one whit about us highly taxed middle to upper middle income earners.

^^^Newsome is following the Kennedy political model. It gets votes from the poorer people who often view themselves as 'have nots'.

POTUS#45 was also successful in working this angle by appealing to those who felt they were being 'left out'.

Ironic but an effective campaign strategy as Newsome also aspires to someday be POTUS.


5 people like this
Posted by Jill
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2020 at 3:47 pm

Homelessness is caused by mental illness and addiction. Building homes won't change that. The mentally ill and addicted don't have the life skills needed to maintain a home.

Corrupt politicians pretend the homelessness crisis is caused by a lack of housing so greedy real-estate developers can pretend to solve the problem by building housing the mentally ill and addicted can't afford.


5 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2020 at 4:05 pm

>> "proposing a state constitutional amendment to make it easier to sue cities that fail to provide shelter for their unhoused populations"

This has to be the dumbest idea I've heard in 50 years. So, any mentally ill, or just desperately poor, homeless person who decides for whatever reason to move to California will have the -right- to shelter in any city they happen to find themselves "unhoused" in? The idea defies rational thought. We're going to have a 5 Million more homeless people living in California before we know it. Cities have *zero* control over who happens across their borders. What a crazy idea.


1 person likes this
Posted by greedy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2020 at 7:23 pm

I'm still locking my doors no matter what Sacramento says.


Like this comment
Posted by Woke
a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 22, 2020 at 9:14 pm

For gods sake....stop voting for these people!!!!!!


Like this comment
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 23, 2020 at 9:17 am

Article today is the SFC concerning the Gov's desire for the federal gov to give up some of it's land so he can use it for housing. However he throws all kinds of insults into the mix as he has from his inauguration. As political tactics go I view that as ass-backward. If he was in a corporation that works with the government he would not last a week. The continual stream of insults is wasting everyone's time and money. That must be some personality trait that is not going to promote him into a future spot for President.

You can add to that the SJM and SFC Opinion policies which are consumed by a policy of shaping public opinion but in it's extreme is non-productive. People have New Year Resolutions to improve their physical and emotional well-being. Hard to do when the locals are always beating their drums in a state of panic over the very specific jobs that are within their charter to resolve. Sick of the blame game - people are exhausted by it and do not buy it.


3 people like this
Posted by Two Different Worlds
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 23, 2020 at 9:20 am

> Homelessness is caused by mental illness and addiction. Building homes won't change that. The mentally ill and addicted don't have the life skills needed to maintain a home.

^^^As aforementioned, there are TWO types of homelessness...that of 'displacement' due to economic factors & 'derelict' homelessness due to mental illness and/or substance abuse issues.

Affordable & temporary housing could be enabled to help some 'displaced' folks get back on their feet via some low-income housing options or a renewal of rental assistance vouchers for those who qualify.

On the other hand, the 'derelict' homeless cannot be realistically helped other than to round them up via a state-mandated conservatorship & placing them in specialized jails where they can receive proper treatment for their addictions.

And in the event this option should fail, the 'derelict' homeless should be PERMANENTLY incarcerated or housed in state institutions regardless of their objections as removing these individuals from mainstream society will reduce the related crime which often goes to support their addictive habits.

Either that or make methamphetamine, fentanyl, crack cocaine, and heroin 'street legal' while living with & accepting the consequences of an addict's criminal activities to support their habits + any disruptive behavior (verbal or physical) they may exhibit on the streets towards regular law-abiding citizens and their children.

If the above model (in lieu of a lock-up) is acceptable to most citizens, then simply tossing a few coins on the sidewalk (or handing out a twenty dollar bill) to a homeless derelict seeking substance-related assistance should suffice.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 23, 2020 at 9:30 am

Like to add here the regular programming of shows during the day are interrupted by the trial and you can catch The View at 2:45 AM after the Tamron Hall show on ABC. The ladies of the View are not thrilled with the NYT opinion on recommendations for Pres- two ladies with divergent views. This is a vote on who has the credentials and experience to run a country, and if a male or female that is not the criteria. So now that it is all coming down to the crunch time give credit to Whoopie - don't listen to polls, don't listen to media opinion pieces - study the qualifications of the people and their ability to manage a country. And HRC is warming up - they concluded that she did herself in as do any others who say you need to vote for a woman just because she is a woman.


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