Gov. Gavin Newsom visited an emergency shelter and Riverside’s Access Center Tuesday on the second day of his weeklong homelessness tour.
Newsom was joined on the visit by Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey, Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, and Assemblyman Jose Medina, D-Riverside.
The Access Center provides a wide range of services under one roof, including homeless street outreach, housing placement, employment development and homeless prevention resources.
Newsom said while in Riverside, he talked to a homeless woman named Peggy, “who sat there talking to me about the symbolism of a key — this notion of a key and what it represented to her. The dignity that comes with a key. A door. A lock. The privacy. The security that comes with that.”
“And no sooner did that happen, the mayor of Riverside came over to her and gave her her own key to her own unit,” Newsom said. “I get emotional even talking about it. That’s the power of transformation in a magical moment. And so our job is to create 150,000 magical moments.”
Newsom traveled to Los Angeles Tuesday afternoon, visiting staff and residents at a board and care home. While there, he stressed the need for the state to take a leadership role in addressing the homelessness issue, while also asserting the need to mandate that cities and counties across California take action.
“No longer can we volunteer our support,” he said. “No longer can we encourage a response to this. We need to mandate it. We need accountability. We need to own this. And we need to own up to our responsibility to do more and do better.
“This is the wealthiest state in the world. It’s the fifth-largest economy on planet Earth. It’s running unprecedented surpluses. … And yet the homeless rate continues to climb and climb and climb. It’s unacceptable and we need to do better.”
Newsom’s tour began Monday visiting two homeless service providers and shelters in Grass Valley, about 60 miles north of Sacramento.
Newsom signed an executive order Wednesday as part of a comprehensive state response to homelessness.
The order includes creation of the California Access to Housing and Services Fund, expediting the availability of state land assets to temporarily house the homeless and directing the Department of General Services to supply 100 camp trailers from the state fleet and the Emergency Medical Services Authority to deploy modular tent structures to provide temporary housing and delivery of health and social services across the state.
In his state budget proposal released Friday, Newsom formally announced more than $1 billion in homeless response funding, including $750 million for the Access to Housing and Services Fund, and making changes to the Medi-Cal system to better serve individuals experiencing mental illness and homelessness.
“The state of California is treating homelessness as a real emergency because it is one,” Newsom said Wednesday in connection with signing the executive order. “Californians are demanding that all levels of government — federal, state and local — do more to get people off the streets and into services, whether that’s housing, mental health services, substance abuse treatment or all of the above.
“That’s why we’re using every tool in the toolbox — from proposing a massive new infusion of state dollars in the budget that goes directly to homeless individuals, emergency housing and treatment programs to building short-term emergency housing on vacant state-owned land.”
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