California Gov. Gavin Newsom on the homeless: 'We own this issue'

For years, California’s leaders have ignored the state’s homeless population and their policies have made it worse. Today, that homeless population has gotten so large that Californians have a humanitarian issue on their hands. 

Many Californians are living in conditions normally seen in a developing country. Needles, human waste and garbage accumulate on sidewalks, streets and drainage systems. This is not safe, nor is it environmentally sound. The environmental damage should deeply trouble a state that has moved to shut down an entire industry in order to protect delta smelt minnows. When did fish start deserving more public attention and protection than humans?

This is a question the media should be asking California’s leaders daily. But connecting logical dots is an impossible task for many mainstream media outlets today — especially when it does not fit their narratives.

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Maybe the media will take California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomCalifornia: Dual threats of wildfire and COVID-19 underscore need for prevention The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Progress slow on coronavirus bill Trump vows challenge to Nevada bill expanding mail-in voting MORE’s own words to heart: “We own this issue. … The issue of homelessness is a crisis in the state of California. It’s happened on our watch, and we need to meet this moment.”

California, home of the Hollywood elite, is a liberal media haven. So it is no surprise the Trump administration’s actions — to force California to finally prioritize its homelessness crisis — have been ignored.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in Arizona Trump camp considering White House South Lawn for convention speech: reports Longtime Rep. Lacy Clay defeated in Missouri Democratic primary MORE was deeply moved by the images of the crisis and the evidence that American homelessness is getting much worse. He used his bully pulpit to highlight the health and environmental hazards impacting Americans, particularly the most vulnerable. He sent his administration’s leaders to California to examine old facilities that could be temporarily turned into short-term emergency homeless shelters until more affordable housing is erected. He also allocated grant money to nonprofits and those fighting homelessness who are getting results. 

These actions did not get the attention they deserve, so let’s connect the dots for the media. Imitation is the highest form of flattery and Gov. Newsom seems to be following President Trump’s lead to prioritize this crisis.  

By pledging surplus state budget funds for homelessness, California’s governor is acknowledging this humanitarian issue. It is now our hope, for the sake of the homeless population and California taxpayers, that these funds are spent prudently and in a manner that achieves immediate results. Last year, the Trump administration went on a tour of potential sites to refit to house the homeless, while the governor just finished his own week-long tour of homeless facilities in January.

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The truth is, President Trump has set California (and every state) up for success. His administration has created an economic boom of proportions unparalleled in the past 50 years. The industrial sector is up. We are on the verge of full energy independence. Black unemployment is at historic lows. Hispanic unemployment is at historic lows. We have rising wages, low interest, and a roaring stock market. Whatever measure you name, the result is exceptional. The jobs and opportunity are here, but compassion and common sense from California’s leadership is missing.

Furthermore, the Trump administration has provided California more than $1.2 billion in homelessness assistance in the past three years.

It is up to Californians to hold their leaders accountable. Other cities have seen spikes in homelessness, and they’ve taken action to address them by creating more temporary short-term emergency shelters, building affordable housing, and helping citizens relocate to available housing with supportive services.

California boasts the fifth-largest economy in the world. Yet, California’s leadership continues to ask other states to pitch in to help with its homelessness crisis. This is like a billionaire asking a bus driver for a handout.

Let’s ask ourselves: Can anyone in good conscience demand a dental assistant making $52,860 a year and living in a $150,000 house in Oklahoma send more of his or her hard-earned tax dollars to California for its homelessness problem? Especially when California’s past response to the crisis has been to spend years pursuing foolhardy endeavors such as constructing $500,000  apartments, with low-flush toilets and reclaimed wood, for their homeless population?

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Clearly, logic is missing if this is California’s solution to homelessness. Californians, especially Los Angeles residents, should be outraged. However, they should be encouraged by the ongoing negotiations between Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonTrump administration ends Obama fair housing rule Castro urges Dems to seize moment on social reform Overnight Health Care: Fauci says 'bizarre' efforts to discredit him only hurt the White House | Alabama to require face masks | House panel probes 'problematic' government contracts MORE and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Secretary Carson, a former brain surgeon, has been driven his entire life by a deep sense of compassion and is working to fill this commonsense void. Carson is committed to helping all individuals succeed by becoming self-sufficient, and he and Mayor Garcetti seem to be formulating an agreement to do what it takes to help these vulnerable Americans.

Even if Secretary Carson and Mayor Garcetti don’t reach an agreement, they’ve made more progress on the issue than we have seen in years just by giving this crisis the attention it deserves.

As the old saying goes, “the devil is in the details.” But, in this scenario, the real devilish action would be inaction.

Newt GingrichNewton (Newt) Leroy GingrichMORE is a former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, chairman of the board at Gingrich Productions and a Gallup senior scientist. Follow him on Twitter @newtgingrich.