Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement about the state's plan to build 1,200 small homes for homeless people made no mention of San Francisco or other parts of the Bay Area hit particularly hard by the crisis.
Newsom unveiled the proposal during the first stop in a four-city tour in which he lauded the “unprecedented” investments that the state has made in its homeless response.
But in Contra Costa and Alameda counties, which have seen considerable increases in homeless residents, Newsom didn’t say anything about new investments beyond already allocated funding.
In San Francisco, despite a slight dip in the population of unhoused people last year, homelessness remains a top concern for residents as the crisis continues to weigh heavily on local infrastructure.
Newsom’s grand plan calls for building 350 tiny homes in Sacramento, 500 in Los Angeles, 200 in San Jose and 150 in San Diego. Conspicuously absent was a target for San Francisco or Oakland.
However, the governor said he expects criticism and clarified that tiny homes are just one part of the state’s broader strategy for tackling the housing crisis—a plan that includes a two-year $15.3 billion investment in services for homeless people and another $10.3 billion for housing.
“Cynics be damned,” Newsom said. “I’m not here announcing that this is the entire package or strategy. The state has significantly increased its responsibility and role to invest. [...] There's no per capita that has ever been appropriated this large to address this issue in modern times.”
Newsom said that the homes will cost around $30 million to build. As for where they’ll go, his office said that’s for local governments to decide.
Last fall, Newsom clashed with local leaders from across the state after decrying what he called a lack of ambition in solving the crisis. He delayed $1 billion last fall until city leaders formally committed to reduce homelessness by 15%.
Building tiny homes in San Francisco typically costs a fortune and invites neighborhood backlash. Plans to build 70 to 80 tiny homes in the Mission earlier this year were shot down after the public found out the project would cost nearly $100,000 per unit—as much as $7.4 million, all told.
The San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, which has an overall budget this year that amounts to $672 million, says it would take an additional $1.4 billion to end unsheltered homelessness in San Francisco.
David Sjostedt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org