Newsom Adviser Defends Spending $17.5 Billion on Homelessness as Homeless Population Surged: It Would Be Worse Without Intervention

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IAN HANCHETT 11 Jul 2023

During a portion of an interview with CNN National Correspondent Nick Watt aired on Tuesday’s broadcast of CNN’s “The Lead,” Jason Elliott, who serves as an Adviser to California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on homelessness, defended the state spending $17.5 billion to fight homelessness over the past four years even though homelessness in the state went up by 32% by stating that the problem would be worse without the state’s intervention.

Watt began the report by stating “$17.5 billion. That’s what California has spent fighting homelessness over the past four years. At the same time, the homeless population of the state grew by around a third.”

He then played a clip of Elliott saying, “The problem would be so much worse absent these interventions, and that’s not what people want to hear. I get it. We get it.”

Watt then said, “Here’s some reductive, back-of-the-envelope math: With 17.5 billion, in theory, the state could have just paid the rent for every unhoused person in all four years.”

In the next clip in the report, Elliott responded that the math “is reductive, and can I say why with respect? Perhaps that would work for me because I don’t have significant behavioral health challenges.”

Watt added, “My reductive math did leave maybe 3 billion for mental health and other services. But even if the state did just offer to pay the rent, there just aren’t enough affordable houses to go around.”

Watt added that zoning is ultimately decided by local governments before playing video of Elliott stating that some governments won’t build low-income housing.

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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