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Photo by Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons license 2.0

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that he's taking action to release half a billion dollars in funding to address homelessness. The money is part of a $650 million package of emergency funding already approved by state legislators, but held up because the Trump administration has dragged its feet on releasing data that would allow the money to be spent. Cities and counties can begin applying for funding immediately.

While more federal money to help with California's homelessness crisis would help, this delay has nothing to do with Trump demanding Newsom investigate Joe Biden. The San Jose Mercury News explains how the federal government managed to prevent California from spending its own damn money:

The governor accused the Trump administration of trying to politicize the issue and preventing the funding from getting to local officials who can put it to use. State law says that funding allocations ultimately must be based off homeless counts approved by the federal government. But Newsom's office says Trump's team has been sitting on the data for months.

So instead, California will use preliminary homeless estimates to distribute $500 million and wait for the final numbers to allocate the remainder of the funds.

What? The feds are holding up routine government data at a time when Donald Trump is routinely attacking California for supposedly not doing enough about homelessness? Pardon us while we locate our shocked faces. Also not surprising: The Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is responsible for the data on homelessness, didn't return the Mercury News's request for comment. Ben Carson was probably shopping for furniture.


Newsom got on the Twitters yesterday to give wingnuts the chance to insist that merely spending money on problems isn't nearly as effective as just yelling "personal responsibility" at people in distress:

No, you don't need to read the replies, which are mostly about how Democrats created homelessness through evil magic. We especially liked the dipshit who blamed the California legislature for tying the funds to federal data, because how's that for stupid laws, huh?

Out in the real world, California mayors and groups that work to help people in homelessness were happy the funds can finally be put to use. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, who we are getting something of an instant long-distance crush on, said his city's cut of the state funding is likely to be about $20 million, with which a lot of good can be done:

The money, he said, will go toward small grants to help families at risk of losing their housing and toward converting a motel into apartments for the formerly homeless.

"Anyone who is knowledgeable about the daunting scale of our homelessness challenge recognizes this is a drop in the bucket," Liccardo said, "but we critically need every drop."

Please do go read the linked story on that San Jose program, now being replicated by other cities -- like Oakland, which offers small grants to keep people in their homes before they end up on the streets. Talk about a radical notion: Give families assistance while they still have a roof over their heads, instead of the far higher costs of helping them back into housing afterwards.

The grant program, which just started a couple years ago, is run by a nonprofit called Destination: Home, with help from the city, Santa Clara County, and other nonprofits. So far, the results are encouraging:

Each family got an average of $3,982 over the course of a few months, with 97 percent able to remain in their homes, according to Destination: Home. Most importantly, families got immediate help — usually within three days of applying — rather than being asked to wait for longer-term plans, like more affordable housing becoming available, to become a reality.

"Those families are not reentering our homeless system," Chad Bojorquez of Destination: Home said at the council meeting.

"Our community really is implementing a countywide homelessness prevention system," Jennifer Loving, the CEO of Destination: Home, said in an interview after the vote. "Before families would have to try to fight over making $500 work."

It's really the kind of nutty concept you'd expect from those crazy Californians: Instead of spending money on lengthy applications and "work requirements," just give people some money so they won't lose their housing. But where's the shaming, man, where's the shaming?

In related news, a new study on poverty released last month came to the completely astonishing conclusion that one of the best ways to get people out of poverty is to give them cash assistance. You sure? American lawmakers insist you need to tell the poors to not fuck or make them go to church.

Ah, but we digress. Loving, the Destination: Home CEO, said the new state funding will help her group serve a lot more people, and added it will have a multiplier effect, too, since the state money can be used to leverage additional funding from public and private sources.

The city of Oakland was glad to finally get the new funding, which will go to expand programs that are already helping people:

"With the anticipated allocation of about $12 million, Oakland will maintain and expand 800+ transitional housing, emergency beds and safe parking spaces we have already created with the state's first allocation," Sara Bedford, director of the city's Department of Human Services, said in an emailed statement. "It will allow continuation of our encampment support services and allow for more robust employment strategies to support housing stability."

We'll admit we hadn't heard about that "safe parking spaces" thing, and that we teared up just reading about it: Since so many working families in California can't afford the insane housing prices, many are living out of cars and RVs, but finding a place to park for the night is a challenge. So cities like Oakland and San Jose have started providing areas where families can park their vehicles safely for the night, with nonprofits providing showers, toilets, electrical hookups, and garbage services, along with social services to help folks find work and housing. And here's Mayor Liccardo again, explaining that while it's not as good as real affordable housing, it's a temporary step that can help a lot of people:

"This is far from a solution," Liccardo said. "This is a band-aid. But all the solutions cost a lot of money and require a lot of time. So, in the meantime, we'll continue to explore the band-aids that can provide a safe, healthy place for homeless families to be until we can get them into permanent housing."

Hell of a country we have, where that's even something that's needed -- and thank Crom it's there, too.

In other news, Donald Trump is cutting food stamps, encouraging states to slash medical care for low-income folks, and bragging about unemployment stats and the stock market, so we're pretty sure all the poverty will just go away any moment now.

[San Jose Mercury News / Mercury News / NPR / Destination: Home / Photo by Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons license 2.0]

Yr Wonkette is supported solely by reader donations! We appreciate your generosity; if you have a little extra, maybe send some to Destination: Home, too. And for God's sake, vote.

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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