Tent cities, street chaos and public disorder have spread to every corner of California under his watch.
If California voters recall Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sept. 14, homelessness will be a big part of the reason. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, homelessness in California rose 40% over the past five years. Though only 12% of the U.S. population lives in California, the Golden State hosts half of the nation’s street population. Certain neighborhoods, such as Los Angeles’s Skid Row, have been notorious for decades. Mr. Newsom’s problem is that under his watch, homelessness has spread to every corner of the state.
Most Californians disapprove of the governor’s handling of the issue. More than half of respondents to a July Inside California Politics/Emerson College poll rated his response to the problem as poor. In some parts of the state, homelessness tops even Covid-19 in surveys of public concern.
To many recall voters, the word “homelessness” connotes less a lack of access to housing than a state spiraling out of control. Homelessness means hepatitis outbreaks and deadly encampment fires. It means parks, beaches and sidewalks strewn with needles and human waste. It means urban chaos.
Stephen Eide is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and contributing editor of City Journal.
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