California Gov. Gavin Newsom asks lawmakers for measure on 2024 ballot to approve new mental health beds

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Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday asked state lawmakers for a measure on the 2024 ballot to fund a major expansion of housing and treatment for residents suffering from mental illness and addiction. 

The governor was expected to elaborate on the details during a Sunday afternoon press conference in San Diego. It’s part of the Democratic governor’s broader goal to tackle the state’s deeply entrenched homelessness epidemic.  

The governor’s request asks for authorization funding to build residential facilities where over 10,000 people a year could live and be treated. 

Tent encampments have popped up on sidewalks and under freeway overpasses across California. People with clear mental health issues have become a familiar sight to residents. 

The initiative would be partially funded by general obligation bonds that would go toward the construction of ‘campus-style’ facilities along with smaller homes and long-term residential settings, Newsom’s office said.

State Sen. Susan Talamantes Eggman, D-Stockton, will introduce the measure, which would also earmark money to house more than 10,000 homeless veterans across the state, according to the statement.

The announcement from Newsom comes as the governor is wrapping up a four-day tour of the state, highlighting his major policy goals instead of a traditional State of the State address.

Last week, Newsom announced a plan to spend about $30 million to build 1,200 small homes across the state to help house homeless people. The homes can be assembled quickly and cost a fraction of what it takes to build permanent housing. Federal courts have ruled cities can’t clear homeless encampments if there are no shelter beds available. 

The governor’s plans are not without critics, however. California Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher of Yuba City said any plan to address homelessness ought to begin with requiring that homeless people with mental illness and suffering from drug addiction get treatment. 

‘And after that, he should reduce the taxes, fees, and regulations that have made it nearly impossible for Californians to afford housing, electricity, and all other everyday costs,’ Gallagher said in a statement. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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