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‘Housing First’ Foments Homelessness in California

‘Housing First’ Foments Homelessness in California

Five days before winning re-election as California’s governor, Gavin Newsom surprised local leaders by rejecting every single plan put forward by a city, county or organization to fight homelessness—and withholding $1 billion in state money until those plans improve. He said he’d convene a meeting this month to discuss what really works. He should start with what doesn’t work: everything California has done for years.

Residents have known for years what Mr. Newsom has only belatedly recognized: that the government is failing to address the problem. Homelessness is a nationwide problem, but nowhere is it as bad as in the Golden State. More than 150,000 Californians are homeless on any given night. Most of those—about 70%—are unsheltered. They live outside in streets and parks. Despite billions in state and local spending every year, more than half of the country’s unsheltered homeless are in California.

California’s failed approach to homelessness is built around the “housing first” model. The goal is to get every long-term homeless person into a permanent, government-subsidized home—with no prequalifications like sobriety, drug treatment or psychiatric care. Until that goal is reached, the state will allow people to camp and sleep almost anywhere and to do almost anything.

Read the full commentary in the Wall Street Journal.