As he wrapped up a statewide tour of programs to address homelessness on Thursday, Governor Gavin Newsom called the protesting moms in West Oakland "courageous," and said that his staff would be meeting with them.
Newsom landed in Oakland Thursday afternoon to unveil a program in which state-funded, FEMA-style travel trailers are being deployed to various locations to provide temporary shelter on vacant property. The event capped off four days of travel around the state in which the governor made stops in Grass Valley, Riverside, Los Angeles, and Fresno in an effort to show that his administration is trying to tackle the spiraling crisis head on.
"This is the issue of our time," Newsom said at the Oakland event, per KRON4. "The issue of homelessness is a crisis in the state of California. It is happening on our watch and we need to meet this moment."
In a major shift, Newsom also said that he would extend an olive branch and send an envoy to meet with the Trump Administration on the issue of homelessness.
Newsom announced that $650 million in emergency grant money that was requested by cities and counties last year is now available and ready to use. "Right here in Oakland and Alameda, $38 million will be distributed in real time to beat this crisis head on,” Newsom said. “Some $19.7 million is available today, immediately for the city of Oakland to address rapid re-housing and recuperative care, to address first and last month’s rent, to start the process of converting hotels and motels into permanent and supportive housing."
“We need to own up to our responsibility to do more & do better.”— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) January 17, 2020
On the last stop of his homelessness tour, @GavinNewsom & top administrative officials visited Oakland to preview a series of partnerships to assist individuals experiencing homelessness. #CaliforniaForAll pic.twitter.com/woHZhRgZBc
Newsom has also requested $750 million in new funds for homelessness initiatives in this year's budget, which he's asked to be fast-tracked for use by July or August.
The governor also made direct mention of the Moms 4 Housing group, who garnered national headlines in the last two months for their act of civil disobedience, squatting in a single-family home that had been sitting vacant on Magnolia Street in West Oakland. Seizing on the governor's visit, an unidentified member of the group gave a statement to KTVU and other news cameras saying, "Tell him to come down here. This is a crisis! This is a crisis right here! Tell Governor Newsom come to Magnolia Street!"
Newsom said the moms were "courageous," and added, "We will be meeting — members of my staff will be meeting with them shortly. I can assure you there will be a lot of wonderful things that will be said and done." Per the Mercury News, Newsom also added, "They’re representing tens of thousands of other mothers, families that are suffering. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to do what they’ve done. They deserve an enormous amount of credit."
Newsom and his team dropped off 15 travel trailers in Oakland, nine of which are set to remain at the lot on Hegenberger Road near the Coliseum, while six will be given to Oakland-based nonprofit Covenant House to house homeless youth, as the Mercury News reports. The nine trailers, each of which sleep five people, will be open to temporarily house homeless families in which one member is willing and able to accept full-time work. The trailers are set to be occupied through September.