California launches task force to address homelessness

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday the establishment of a task force in Oakland city to tackle homelessness and a housing crisis in Northern California, the KPIX5 TV outlet reported.

The new Homeless and Supportive Housing Advisory Task Force, co-chaired by Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, will help guide local governments in their process of drafting plans to address homelessness that has troubled Bay Area cities for years.

Newsom launched the task force at the Henry Robinson Multi-Service Center, a transitional housing facility in downtown Oakland, which shelters about 160 homeless people for about half a year before they get permanent housing.

“Homelessness is a matter of statewide concern, but solutions will come from the local level,” Newsom said.

In a revised budget plan released earlier this month, 1 billion U.S. dollars was earmarked for homelessness programs to help get the homeless people off the streets, according to the San Francisco Chronicle daily.

Newsom hoped the task force will accumulate successful experience from local governments, so that their efforts to combat homelessness could be applied statewide.

Last week, a federal count showed that the homeless population in San Francisco has increased by 17 percent over the past two years to hit 8,011 people in 2019, while the number of those living on the streets rose by 31 percent to 9,700 this year in Santa Clara County in Silicon Valley.

In Alameda County, which includes the city of Oakland, more than 8,000 people were counted as homeless, a 43-percent increase over the past two years.

A new poll issued Tuesday found that one in five residents in the Bay Area listed the problem of homelessness as one of their top concerns that affected their confidence in the future of the region which they called their home.

About half of the residents are considering leaving the Bay Area in the next few years, up from 34 percent just three years ago, due to a number of worrisome factors including high cost of living, homelessness, bigger housing pressures, and worsening traffic, said the poll conducted online.