It’s bad enough that homeless sweeps throughout the state do little more than add to the stress and misery of the poorest among us. Even worse, California Governor Gavin Newsom has taken to bragging about them, especially the sweeps conducted by Caltrans along the state’s highways.
One of the most wasteful expenditures of money the state has ever known, sweeps have become a kind of relocation roulette that bounces the same people from the same places and back again time after time and year after year. Sweeps amount to a circle of futility that today operates under the banner of “Clean California,” a well-intentioned and much-needed program to rid the state of trash and blight.
Touted as a job-creating enterprise that will, “beautify community gateways and public areas along highways, streets and roads, and provide good jobs to thousands of Californians,” Clean California is based on the false assumption that once forced to move, homeless people will just go away. While Governor Newsom has correctly argued that “Our roadways and highways are no place for individuals to live,” he’s ignored the hard fact that when homeless people are forced to move, they have nowhere to go.
The evidence that sweeps don’t abate homelessness is all around us. While state and local agencies have been performing sweeps for years, homeless numbers have only grown. So has the trash that results when people have nowhere to go and nowhere to put their refuse.
For those who’ve been involved with homeless people for any length of time, the crux of the problem is obvious: At the backend of most sweeps is another place in the dirt, or in a local park, or behind a building, or along a canal or river.
Once told again to move on, homeless people return to same areas they were recently driven from. They bring their trash with them. They also bring the weariness and despair that come from having no place to lay their heads, nor anywhere to bathe their bodies, denied even a place in the dirt.
Nonetheless, Governor Newsom said on August 28 that, “Our efforts are a model for the nation, and more importantly, we’re getting people off the streets and into the housing and services they deserve.”
Anywhere in the San Joaquin Valley — Modesto, Stanislaus County, and all points north and south —after years of sweeps — there are more homeless people on the streets today than ever. Not only that, the number of people living in their cars is growing exponentially.
The tagline that follows most reports of sweeps — “and connect them to services” — is one of the most pernicious of all misleading statements about homelessness, and Governor Newsom is either clueless or disingenuous when he uses it in connection with Caltrans sweeps.
Not only isn’t there enough housing or shelter of any kind for homeless people, there also aren’t enough “services.” Services routinely cited as available almost always involve an endless round of forms, referrals, labyrinths and dead ends.
Consider just one obvious example: There is a severe shortage of qualified workers and facilities for the mentally ill throughout the state. The shortage for the unhoused is even more acute and punishing; thirty- to forty-percent of homeless people are mentally ill.
The situation is especially dire in the San Joaquin Valley:
“A new report from the California Health Care Foundation shows that the Bay Area has 19 licensed psychiatrists and 73 licensed psychologists per 100,000 people – significantly more than the state averages of 12 and 44. At the other end of the spectrum, the San Joaquin Valley has six psychiatrists and 16 psychologists for the equivalent number of people.”
The quickest, most cost-effective, and most humane measures for mitigating the homeless crisis — safe ground camping and permitted parking for those living in vehicles — are dismissed as unfeasible while billions are spent on sweeps. Such is California’s government throughout the state, with a few local exceptions.
California today has a growing humanitarian crisis, a dire human emergency, and its leaders are for the most part not only helpless, they’re counterproductive. When they react, it’s through efforts that compound cruelty with yet another sweep, yet another command to, “move along.”
With $14 billion of the California budget dedicated to homelessness, the state’s leadership at all levels finds itself unable to provide safe ground, toilets, running water and trash bins for people in the throes of an economic crisis — fellow citizens.
Governor Newsom could end this cruelty now with an emergency declaration and orders to provide safe ground and bare necessities, but he can’t do that. Given the choice between the universal command to Do Unto Others or continue a regime of cruelty, California’s Governor has chosen cruelty.
Richard Anderson says
I hope you somehow can get this message through to Gov. Newsom! Your analysis so accurately describes our homeless situation here.
And wow, that first photo says SO much. That photo truly IS worth a thousand words!
Joann Woodsley says
I second that. I have voiced a similar opinion to my husband on more than one occasion. If we spend 14 billion on the homeless shouldn’t there be something to show for it? Instead we have more camps and more homeless everywhere you look. It would not cost 14 billion to set up safe zones throughout California where homeless people can camp, cook and bathe. How much could it cost to provide them with campgrounds throughout California with trash cans and toilets and even running water so that they can at least live with the most basic of amenities and there could be people employed by the state to ensure certain rules are adhered to and that trash is picked up, bathrooms are clean and toilets flush but still give the homeless the freedom to live their lives on their own terms. You can even have a checkin procedure just to ensure that everyone coming in is given basic toiletries and towels, a sleeping bag maybe even a cot. Have food donations and even a soup kitchen on site. Give them a tent to calll their own while they are staying there and the security to understand that they have a place to stay and don’t need to worry about hanging on to their own tent and or sleeping bags because if they choose to leave and go somewhere else there will be another safe haven for the homeless nearby that they can count on for a meal and place to rest their head. I’m sure this would cost less than 14 billion and I think would be quite effective. You could even have small homes for families and people looking to better their circumstances. There could be access to services such as counseling, employment and or transportation. It’s time to address the problem because it is getting worse and if newsom keeps it up I’m going to pass out flyers with his fair oaks address on it and invite everyone that is homeless and mobile to come and camp in newsom’s front yard. I hear it has terrific views of the river and a pool. His front yard is probably gorgeous and I have a feeling his house is a little too quiet with only the Newsoms living there. A little company is just what they need. And maybe a few camps could find their way by Jesuit high School that way the problem follows Newsom everywhere and he has to address it properly.
Please excuse my ranting but before you do let me rant about one more thing. Newsom needs to pull the silver spoon out of his butt and get together with all his rich buddies like George Sorros and maybe with some help from Zuckerberg, and the kardashians they can afford to buy every Californian that currently is driving a car that is fueled with gasoline, an electric vehicle so that we can beat his deadline by over a decade and be that much further along in the effort to save our planet. That would be the only logical step to take because mandating something that not everyone can afford is a really dumb and ineffectual way to deal with climate change, in my opinion. But what do I know? I’ve just lived in California my entire life but can no longer recognize it as being the most beautiful state with the most endless opportunities and potential for a person to succeed. I literally judged every state by the fact that they were not California so no matter what they offered they couldn’t take the place of California in my mind. Nice to visit but who would want to leave California? Unfortunately today that is almost half of the current population and at this rate will be 90% before next year is through.
LOU VALERO says
Thank you for your contribution. You reveal you have been giving the homeless much thought. You voiced a pertinent element we all need to take into account, like it or not.
Just because the homeless have become unhoused does not mean that they want to give up
“The freedom to live their lives on their own terms.”
What turns the homeless off to temporary shelters is that they are often run more like what I imagine would feel like boot camps or jails. The element of freedom to choose on their own terms is missing. Too much is regimented, as if, on top of everything
else gone wrong, they must opt into a situation where they find themselves as if being penalized for things mostly out of their control, if not entirely out of their control.
It is a lot to get their minds around. “You are telling me in order to receive your help, I must become less than I am?” has to enter their minds. Meaning, HAVING TO BE LESS than I am, when being told what to do, how to do it, when to do it, etc. This at a time when holding onto who I am is all one has left. If I cannot be me, what do I have to want to live for? The narrative may be like that.
The homeless are, in a way, reduced to be products of their environment. As Environmental Injustice does it’s damage.
Someone else has set up the rules. The mentally challenged were sent packing. Someone arranged institutionalization. Someone closed the institution. Someone decides where one can and cannot rest one’s body. Someone else makes up all rules and changes them without one’s input. Someone has one dangling from frayed strings like a puppet, and controls if and when one can zig, if and when one can zag.
No small wonder why homeless people want to live invisible, as close to off the grid as can be possible, where they
decide neighbors or not. There is nothing peculiar about this. We need to do our best to put ourselves in their minds eye and from there, ask for their input.
Something else I like about the HOUSING FIRST model is that housing is provided as a principle. Once housed, each choose what is next.
Safe ground can be similar, to a degree. Once arrived to a place not threatened, each can, without pressure, rest, and decide from there what one wants to do next and when.
It is this that may rub onlookers the wrong way. How dare these precious souls catch a break, on my dime. Is this what the problem is for many?
I have to ask; what happens to the already over-extended electrical grid when every California driver has an electric vehicle? We need more programs to help homeowners afford solar. Use wind power in places that are suitable. Require solar on new builds and. incentives for adding solar on every suitable roof to reduce demand on the electrical grid. I also think that the batteries in electric and hybrid cars are going to become an environmental problem. The entire issue needs to be attacked on every possible front.
VA Macdonald says
His policies are why its like this. Geez.
Yeah. Homelessness began with Newsom. Geez. I’m hearing the world is actually flat too. Who knew?
Gayle Judd says
Newsom is the worst governor California has ever had, by far!!! It’s quite evident;just look around at our once beautiful state. It’s clear to me that he has the funds, he just doesn’t know how to delegate and fix the problems he has created. And this guy wants to be the POTUS!.. God help us all
You are totally right!
That would get them off the street and at least in the safeBetty Huntington says
I don’t understand, how this can go on with no one doing anything. Those poor people in this heat is gross negligence on everybody’s part.
At least, build campgrounds with facilities for showers etc. That would get them off the street and at least in the safest situation.
Mark Walcoff says
It’s policies that have welcomed the homeless is in large part why we have the largest homeless population in the country.
If we make it a little less hospitable, maybe some will move on.
Lisa Garcia says
How much more inhospitable could being homeless in CA be?!?!?
Policies welcoming the homeless in CA, gimme a break.
Edith Plancarte says
Totally agree. We have plenty of homeless also that get disability checks are homeless and happy to put h a tent not have to pay rent and then can spend their checks on drugs. I knew a person who had a great job and started doing drugs after that he claimed he was happier with out the pressures of paying rent car pmt ect. All he wanted was to put h a tent and live with out the responsibility of working. We have plenty who have done just that. They no longer have to hide anymore it’s been easier for them. As long as we let them live anywhere they choose any street ect why would they care to change their situation ??
they are most affected by violence ,crime, and theft, its’ not some holiday. everyday poverty is violence and chaos to planning and coping
Most everyone has a narrative they rely on to absolve them from any unwanted sympathy for the homeless. Your particular version of their euphoric bliss is far more elaborate than most. Perhaps you are a religious person, which helps explain why your shield would have to be that much thicker.
Still, what you said above…pure fiction. We both know you don’t actually believe it though. You just want to believe it.
jt, great reply. How many times have we hear this story – never any facts. This is the kind of negative baloney that many politicians use.
Edith you’re so out of touch you must be a troll or live in an alternate universe. But if you are here, I invite you to do a homeless camp visit with me/others at a time/date of your choosing. Nothing like a taste of reality and then it would be interesting to read your comments!
Julie Jensen says
hi frank! hey long time no see! but you know me,,, I JUST CANT SHUT MY MOUTH, now can i. you remember when you and i met in beardbrook “village”/ you had your red truck and would come out to the camps and bring your solar panel to charge as many phones and devices as you could for us. i remember you charging my phone and when i tried to slink away unnoticed you werent having any of it. you was very nice but not judgemental but had no qualms asking me all the stuff i needed to think about for my own future. over the course of 2 years you gained something that only a very small number of people have gotten from me in the 17 years i had spent on the streets. you earned my trust and my respect. i want you to know that alot of what ive accomplished since then is because you and raven and redhawk and randy, god rest his soul, and maby one or two others believed in me and helped me to remember how to believe in myself. you guys showed me how to remember that i do matter. it breaks my heart knowing what i know and listening to these people tearing the homeless community to shreds. its additudes like this that keeps that ball of hopelesas frustration rolling and they dont even know it. they run off at the mouth tearing away any shred of hope or dignity somehow thinking that by piling more shame on people will somehow magically make them act like they want them to. you know what id give my left arm to get to see those veryt same people get forced into the streets with nothing and noone that gives a a rats ass about anything but getting rid of them, in january and febuary and/or july and august the tow hottest and two coldest months of the year having to scrounge in dumpstersto eat, noplace to sleep, no blanket for warmth, no privacy, make them stay there for a year so they get an honest, unbias education before they open their traps and start spewing sewer from their ignorant high horse mouth! for some reason they believe that privlage makes them superior and that its all good to bully those less fortunate. ill tell you this , god dont like ugly. but they will figure that out soon enough.
“As long as we let them live anywhere?”
Did you mean what you sound like you meant?
Kathy Pogue says
Oh yeah, that’s the right attitude! You have to be a Republican.
My wish for you and the rest of the greedy self-righteous asses with that reprehensible mindset… that you get treated with that same ungodly maleficents when your world is thrown into dispair and hopelessness, left alone, hungry, alone and the small amount of posessions you have fought to hang on to gets ripped from your arms, kicked while you’re down and i hope noone steps up to help you….
turn about is fair play.
He was no good for san francis o,and now he is no good for california, definitely a mistake for potus ,God help us all
Sick N. Tired says
Indeed!!! I’ve been ranting that ever since he was “graduated” from SF to Sac – an OBVIOUS disaster in the first and destined to widen the collateral damage to the second. POTUS material? Only on the heels of an utterly clueless buffoon as the current ACTING POTUS would that prospect even be imagined by his traitorous handlers!
Nobody this clueless should be allowed ANY public office responsibilities, PERIOD!
Mostly Sick (I’m Tired),
“ACTING POTUS”? Is it your Russian-backed opinion that the previous election was stolen and fraudulent? Do you have any proof of this, especially given there is a mountain of proof that the election was free and fair?
If America has a problem, it is people like you who have allowed their brains to be colonized by misinformation. Conservatives used to be reasonable people with good quality perspectives. Now there is a large chunk of them who are straight whack jobs.
When you stop using your brain, your right to vote should be taken away.
Sick n. Tired (half right),
You should post in your first language…Russian.
Just the word, sweep, is really mean spirited when applied to humans: sweeping up the ‘dirt’ and stuff (trash) and then throw it away. It’s beyond cruel, it’s barbaric for a civilized society to do to the least of us!
What in hell is wrong will us given the governor is playing to an audience that likes sweeps!!
Makes him strong and surely a 2024 POTUS candidate!
Maybe we can hire the Chinese, they can build multi story living units in weeks!
President trumps building a wall to HELP KEEP ILLIGALS OUT, and his pipeline for gas from our own country was also shut down to do what has resulted seems to me to be a criminal offense. Galvan is not helping matters.
I listen to Fox News (rep.) and CBS (democrats) and do see why the democrats think as they do. The democratic government are causing the misinformation.
I don’t have a solution. But, the WALL, and doing the pipeline would definitely help. While doing the pipeline for gas, oil, it would be extra nice to make a waterline going west from states being flooded. Doing 2 or 3 lines would be cheaper doing all at same time.
If illigals would take some of these many jobs needed, they could have a temporary visa until they prove themselves.
Won’t work? Ship them out. Everytime I go down town, I see help wanted signs. And we are still paying Healthy Americans to stay home, sit on their butts and collect from our paychecks.
your factual info flow is shutdown. use mdiabiasfactcheck , please when you think. don’t just use “information” that suits your biases and conspiracy theories.
While I certainly like the idea of safe ground for homeless to pitch their tents, they would also need some policing. They can be as cruel to each other as the politicians are. Maybe creating many campgrounds with fewer spots available would help out with the homeless-on-homeless crime. They need a place to shower at least a few times a week, port-o-potties, food, and policing. But I think they should work to clean and maintain the campgrounds as payment for their stay. So what is Grusom Newsom doing with $14 billion? Not sure, but his haircuts must be really expensive.
policing? really? do you know that when we had beardbrook park setup that even for as rough as itr was that yes we had a few things go down, i wont lie, but we dealt with whatever in a way more timely fashion than the police and courts and the ratio of actual crime from that camp was absolutely nothing compaired to our “civilized” counterparts. you all need those cops out here more than we need them keeping busy chasing little old ladies down over stealing a shopping cart. they need this or that! do you even hear yourself? i think people like you should be policed! to keep you from spreading more hate and fear.
SHAME ON OUR GOVERNOR AND MAYOR! WHY NOT BUY LAND FOR THE HOMELESS TO BE ON UNTIL ENOUGH HOUSING IS BUILT! WHAT AMERICAN WAY TO TREAT THE HOMELESS!
It is correct that policies have failed … but let’s look at the facts. This is a result of policies toward community mental health started in the Reagan administration- & ignored by BOTH parties over the years. There have been several Republican governors as well as Democrat governors in that period.
There are other funded policies regarding housing for homeless in the past two years that have provided safe alternatives & extended shelter for several thousand of the homeless population.
And many have been stalled by Nimbies across the state … not wanting a housing program in My Backyard.
This is a humanitarian crisis – & predominantly a health crisis more than an economic crisis.
Don’t make it a political crisis – if we keep doing that there will be no progress only more division.
Offer solutions not just criticism … in the words of John Lennon … “we’d all love to hear the plans”…
Eric Caine says
William: We offer the solution of safe ground camping for an immediate strategy in a crisis situation. We ask Governor Newsom to declare a humanitarian emergency. That’s in the text you comment on here. After establishing safe ground, we recommend tiered housing options, discussed in previous stories. You argue that “this” is a result of policies, then argue “don’t make it political.” We could spend decades discussing such things as trickledown economics, etc, but we have people who need help now and we are making things worse. Perhaps if we tended to the human crisis, we would begin moving toward better politics as well.
Stephanie Beck says
If we could finally break the Democrats hold on all levels of government in our state we would be so much better off. One party rule has only created corruption and incompetence. Unfortunately, it is especially obvious when it comes to the issue of the homeless
Eric Caine says
Stephanie Beck: Actually, poverty is worse in states controlled by Republicans. The west coast has burgeoning homelessness due to lack of affordable housing, for the most part. Also, as William mentioned, we have a crisis in health care. Rising land values, stagnant wages, NIMBYISM, and a host of other factors have contributed to homelessness. However, neither of our political parties has shown any interest in addressing poverty, since leadership in both parties has been quite content with the wealth redistribution brought on by trickledown economics.
Said as simply as possible, we need to solve for housing and health care!!
To do a sweep and take away everything that a homeless person owns is a disgrace.
Including their tent which is the roof over their head. How about providing some garbage cans and toilets with the money.
Lock them up. Force therapy on them with a roof over the head three meals a day and shelter. It’s humane safe and cheaper then throwing billions at it with no results.
Believe it. being locked up and forced to dry up a couple of times they will find a way to survive of the streets or totally out of sight.
I agree, Dan.
It doesn’t matter that they didn’t break a law or that this would be unconstitutional. I like the feel of it. We could put them in camps with a catchy fun name, like Reeducation or Concentration. I’m pretty sure nobody has ever thought of this and it doesn’t seem to have any downsides.
Myrna Doering says
From your pen to the Governor’s eyes! Our legislators, mayors, city councils also need to get together and end this human misery NOW!
Put tons of money into more public free garbage disposal and cheaper laundry facilities available to all. Also fund those traveling shower vans .start with public health concerns . also mental care facilities like before R.Reagan ” the churches will serve these people” plans
KEITH DAWSON says
With 14 Billion dollars to aid the homeless, why do most, if not all, of the places that are getting funding always saying ‘we don’t have the funding.’ ????
Might it have much to do with their own job security. They may want larger pay raises, and corner offices, where they can shuffle papers, for months on end between meetings that might have any thing remotely involving the homeless ill. All homeless are ill by virtue of existing in the traumatizing outdoor environments, without amenities to sufficient health.
And DO NOT overlook the FACT most of all these “places” asking for more funding practice what is known as DUPLICATING SERVICES because they are not coordinating what it is they do with each another. THEY EACH REINVENT THE WHEEL.
COUNTY SOCIAL SERVICE AGENCIES MAKE IT CLEAR THEY DO NOT WANT EMPLOYEES DUPLICATING SERVICES FOR THEIR CONSUMERS, DUE TO NEEDLESS COST OVERAGES. YET WHEN IT COMES TO OUR HOMELESS NEIGHBORS ANYTHING OR NOTHING IS ALLOWED.
SOME HOMELESS ADVOCATES (WHO SEEM TO REALLY CARE ABOUT THE HOMELESS) [FOR MANY IT HAS BECOME MERELY A JOB] WILL HONESTLY POINT OUT THAT THE DIFFERENT GROUPS DO NOT APPEAR TO WANT TO GATHER RESOURCES OR ASSIST IN CONCENTRATING WORK
EFFORTS (TOGETHER) TOWARDS DEVELOPING AN OPTIMUM WORKING DESIGN. THE TERM FOR THESE MORE AND MORE PREVALENT NON-PROFs IS: BOUTIQUE(s). PLENTY OF DUPLICATION GOES ON DAY AFTER DAY IN URBAN CENTERS AND SUBURBS.
ONE COULD CRITIQUE
EACH BOUTIQUE AS OUT TO SEEK ITS OWN NAME (GAME) TO FAME. EACH GRANT APPLICATION OFFERING A NEW PATHWAY [WHAT OFTEN AMOUNTS TO A
GIMMICK] TO SUCCESS.
THE FIELD OF PHILANTHROPY IS RIFE WITH FUNDRAISERS ALL PERHAPS MEANING WELL, AND, PERHAPS FULL OF HOPE EACH HAVE “THE” SPECIAL FORMULA TO COME TO THE RESCUE OF THE HOMELESS ONES. SOON, THOUGH, THEY HIT THE PROVERBIAL WALL AND BURNOUT. WHY?
THERE ARE WAYS TO SOLUTION, YET IT TAKES APPLYING COOPERATION AND HUMILITY.
GOVERNMENT MAY HAVE THE MONEY BUT THEY SELDOM HAVE THE SOLUTION. THEY NEED TO LOOSEN THEIR HANDS OFF THE TAXPAYERS PURSE STRINGS.
SO FAR, SO AS TO NOT REINVENT THE WHEEL, THE HOUSING FIRST PROGRAM IS A WORTHY CONTENDER. BUT, EVEN THAT TAKES TIME MOST HOMELESS NEIGHBORS DO NOT HAVE.
I AGREE WITH SHARON ABOVE: BUY LAND! SAFE GROUND IS WHERE SOUL CARE SPACES CAN EASILY TAKE SHAPE IN PLACE.
ANYTHING SHORT OF THAT IS DEFINITELY A HUMANITARIAN CRISIS. IF GOVERNMENT IS NOT WILLING TO STEP IN, (OTHER THAN BY CONDUCTING THE GOD DEFYING SWEEPS) IT IS ENDANGERING THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY BY ALLOWING A HEALTH MENACE TO FOMENT. DO NOT KID YOURSELVES, DOING LITTLE TO NOTHING TAKES ITS TOLL ON THE HOMELESS FOR CERTAIN. PLUS IT IS ENTERING THE PSYCHE OF US ALL. WHAT DO THE YOUTH THINK OF OUR IDLENESS?
I THOUGHT, ACCORDING TO A JUDGE, IT IS NOW ILLEGAL TO INSTIGATE OR STIR UP HOMELESS POPULATIONS WHEN NOT ENOUGH HOUSING EXISTS FOR THEM. HOW IS LOCAL, REGIONAL, STATE AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ABLE TO MALICIOUSLY MOLEST THESE NEIGHBORS, AS WE DO NOT STAND UP IN RESISTANCE?
MOLESTATION IS NOT ONLY SEXUAL. LOOK IT UP.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
I became homeless cause the house I lived in for 11 1/2 years was sold the owner sold the house we were told to move out we looked everywhere and nothing cause I don’t make 3 times rent and to much for me to rent I was on section 8 and nothing they didn’t help me at all I keeped up with getting extiions to keep our section 8 but they only can give you three extiions.so l loser that they I went for homeless vochar they helped getting a motel then when I find a place they would help with rent deposit and creadt check so time came when I found a place so I try to turn in the paperwork for the homeless vochar I was told cause I wasn’t on welfare that the can not help me with my place so I lost that place cause I was rodded .and still now I’m looking for a place tocall home