California Adds $3.3bn in Funding for Mental Health Care and Homelessness Amid Massive Deficits

By: Stephanie Bontorin | Published: May 15, 2024

California Governor Gavin Newsom introduced an accelerated fund for mental healthcare access and homeless initiatives in the state.

Despite California’s looming debt, the initiative added more than $3.3 billion for social services to be accessible to residents. The plan includes multiple clinics and housing centers in an attempt to tackle the growing issues.

California Narrowly Passes Prop 1

The Proposition passed with razor-thin margins in March after Newsom campaigned heavily for the new bill. The first portion of the money is meant to help cities, counties, tribes, and developers build or renovate treatment centers.

Governor Gavin Newsom speaking energetically at an outdoor event, wearing a casual jacket and a baseball cap

Source: CAgovernor/X

Public health officials have recently criticized Newsom for his proposed $300 million budget cut to revise the $27 billion shortfall.

Funding Allegation and Targets

The new bill will authorize the state to borrow even more from federal reserve funds—more than $6.4 billion—to build approximately 4,350 housing units and create programs for people with debilitating mental health issues.

A large white house with multiple levels and balconies on the side of a lush mountain

Source: Naomi August/Unsplash

A portion of the funds will come directly from the recently imposed wealth tax—money taken from residents earning more than $1 million annually and on the sale of homes worth $5 million and over.

Immediate Relief for Mental Health Centers

The project aims to add another 117 psychiatric beds in Redwood City, North of San Francisco. During a press conference, Newsom noted that he needs local governments to step up and assist with the expansion process.

The Golden Gate Bridge is in San Francisco, California. It is red and is next to a beach.

Source: Christian Mehlführer/Wikimedia Commons

Developers and counties can begin applying for the assistance funds in July.

Newsom Has Vowed To Transform California’s Homelessness Issue

Newsom is a lifelong politician who has vowed to completely transform the face of mental health support and homelessness in his home state. The two topics are headliners of his political platform as governor, and many believe he may bring the same aspirations to a larger political stage. 

A man wearing a dark jacket and blue jeans lays on the side of the sidewalk

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During his tenure as Governor, Newsom has spent billions of dollars to get people off the street. However, the problem remains pervasive throughout southern areas of the state.

No Dramatic Change in Homelessness in L.A.

Home to Skid Row, Los Angeles is the hub of the homeless epidemic in America. More than a third of the entire homeless population of the country resides in California.

Two tents connected with a tarps in an urban environment

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More than 171,000 residents desperately need assistance with housing. On top of this issue, the state currently lacks around 8,000 beds for mental health and addiction treatment.


Proposition Will Fund a Wide Range of Services

During the press conference, Newsom announced that the funds can be used to add needed support for a wide range of services.

A small blue tent sits on a side walk next to a large red building

Source: Naomi August/Unsplash

Short-term facilities, addiction programs, outpatient services, and locked treatment beds are needed throughout the state. Each county and city is encouraged to evaluate their needs and fill gaps where necessary.


Controversial Measure Added to the Bill

Critics of the bill have noted that locked treatment beds may result in disabled and mentally ill individuals becoming imprisoned against their will.

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The bill’s co-author, Susan Eggman, noted that while voluntary care is usually the most effective, oftentimes troubled individuals cannot ask for the services they need. Locked and involuntary treatment is better than no treatment at all.


County Officials Worried About Funding

Some opponents of the proposition have raised concerns over taking funding from millionaires in the state.

A house with spanish roof tiles next to a large palm tree with evergreen trees and power lines in the background

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They worry that the funding structure based on uber-wealthy taxes may threaten the programs not focused on drug or mental health treatment.


Newsom Blasting Cities for Lagging Behind

Last year, Newsom pushed for a new law to make it easier to force people with mental health and addiction issues into treatment.

Governor Gavin Newsom, dressed in a dark blue jacket and white shirt, gestures while speaking at a podium with a sign that reads "BUILDING THE CLEAN."

Source: CAgovernor/X

While many cities launched applications for the program, many have lagged behind. The governor noted that the state cannot do the heavy lifting alone and that cities must implement the much-needed changes.


Funding for Housing Will Be Available at the End of This Year

More money–totalling $3.5 billion—will be available for cities at the end of this year. Newsom and his cabinet hope that areas that need it the most will apply for assistance sooner rather than later.

A rundown white motel with a large neon sign outside

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Another effort being made by the state is to transform rundown motels into homeless housing outside of major cities.


Five-Year Plan To End Homelessness

The proposition is part of a bigger effort by Newsom. The five-year plan includes more than $12 billion in funding for underserved sectors in the state.

An image of Gavin Newsom at an event/A shot of Oakland, California

Source: Wikimedia/Getty Images

Although homelessness will likely never be eradicated, Newsom has taken on a more manageable plan to end family homelessness within five years. Today, student homelessness reached 10% and higher in some counties.