Homelessness Crisis Needs a Plan, Not More Political Games

Monday, December 9, 2019

Homelessness Crisis Needs a Plan, Not More Political Games

Why does it feel like Governor Gavin Newsom doesn’t have a plan for California’s homeless? It sure seems as if he’s merely reacting to events and media coverage, making it up as he goes.

During his campaign, the governor promised to appoint a cabinet-level “homelessness czar” to solve the homelessness crisis in California. After his election, he backed away from doing so, creating instead yet another committee that he filled with other elected officials. Now Governor Newsom has announced hiring Matthew Doherty, a Washington, D.C.-based consultant, as a part-time adviser to fill what is clearly a job with full-time needs and responsibilities.

Doherty most recently worked in the Obama and Trump administrations, where he was tasked with ending homelessness through coordinating housing, services programs and economic opportunities.

Maybe it’s just us, but the homeless situation in California is only getting worse. This crisis needs more than a part-time contractor based out of Washington to address the growing crisis in California. With nearly 50 percent of the nation’s homeless living on California’s streets, this seems to be one of those jobs that requires an on the ground, full-time leader, not someone juggling a bunch of different clients and responsibilities from over 2,700 miles away.

Take that foundation and to it add the news reports that President Trump has plans to combat homelessness and that his plans may focus specifically on California. Doherty recently was let go of his job by President Trump but apparently has “intimate details” of the president’s plans, which Newsom has said he will not reveal until Doherty’s successor is appointed. Why does it seem that Newsom has hired Doherty merely as part of his political strategy to cut off the president at the pass? After all, this governor seeks to undermine anything and everything the president says or does on a daily basis.

Why do Californians have to wait until President Trump unveils Doherty’s replacement? Why not begin to execute the plan now, right away? Isn’t any plan to combat homelessness something everyone should embrace? Do Californians really care who gets something done as long as something actually is done?

This is all further complicated because Doherty’s role and pay was unclear when Governor Newsom announced him for the position. We hope that this isn’t just another episode of fighting to best an opponent, not coming together to actually solve problems.

The real question for Governor Newsom is – Will this announcement be a real homeless plan for California or just another political poke at President Trump?

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Governor Hears Plans from Doherty, But Doesn’t Want To Tell Them Until President Trump Reveals His.  “Newsom said his new part-time adviser Matthew Doherty has told him ‘intimate details’ about Trump’s plans for California homelessness but declined to describe them to reporters Thursday. Newsom said he anticipates more details will be announced Dec. 10 when Trump is expected to name Doherty’s replacement as director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.”

“‘I imagine at that moment we’ll be hearing a lot from their new director,’ Newsom said. ‘I imagine he is tasked to complete the work they want done to – not with – the state of California.’” (Sophia Bollag and Theresa Clift, “Gavin Newsom’s 100-Day Homeless Challenge Will Give Cities A Chance At More Housing Money,” Sacramento Bee, 12/5/19)

Doherty Role Unclear, Pay Has Not Been Determined.Nor is Doherty’s role in California clear. A Newsom spokesman said his pay had not been determined. He will be a contract worker advising Newsom officials but remain in Washington, D.C.” (Morning Update, CalMatters, 12/5/19)