California has almost one-third of the nation’s homeless population despite having only 12% of the U.S. population. In recent years, we have thrown $20 billion at the problem, yet homelessness is growing. In fact, it’s gotten so much worse that we have become a national embarrassment.
Nationwide, this is not the case. For example, over the past 10 years, while our homeless population has increased by 43%, it has decreased 25% in Texas. And California spends 13 times more per homeless person than Texas.
Polls show that Californians view homelessness as the state’s most serious problem so efforts to deal with this crisis are certain to continue next year when the legislature returns from recess. But concrete action is needed now, which is why I have joined my colleagues in an attempt to overturn a federal court ruling that has hamstrung local jurisdictions attempting to deal with this crisis.
The Ninth Circuit Court issued a ruling preventing local governments from enforcing anti-camping ordinances if there is not adequate shelter available. This ruling created a roadblock that prevents California cities from reducing homeless encampments on local streets and other areas such as public parks.
That’s why I have joined many of my colleagues in a letter directing the Office of Legislative Counsel to file an amicus brief on behalf of the Legislature urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the decision by agreeing to hear the case of the City of Grants Pass v. Gloria Johnson, which asks the Court to declare that laws prohibiting camping on public property are not cruel and unusual punishment. Governor Newsom has also announced his support. Once the ruling is overturned, another valuable tool will become available for communities that have been overwhelmed by homeless encampments.
To view our letter, please click here.