Newsom State of the State goes homeless

California Gov. Gavin Newsom delivers State of the State speech at the California Legislature, Feb. 19, 2020./Rachel Bluth.California Healthline

Gov. Gavin Newsom made a bold move Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. In his second State of the State address, an annual speech that usually focuses on political wins or the state’s booming economy, Newsom dedicated 35 of 42 minutes to the urgent but unsexy issue of homelessness.

By proclaiming homelessness the most “pernicious crisis in our midst,” the first-term Democratic governor staked his political reputation on his ability to solve it.

That means his reputation also rides on his ability to fix mental health care in California.

“Health care and housing can no longer be divorced,” Newsom declared in the ornate, mint-chip-ice-cream-hued state Assembly chambers. In attendance were the state’s other executive officers, legislators from both houses, and their families and guests.

During the speech, Newsom outlined several mental health proposals he plans to push this year.

He touted his ambitious “once-in-a-generation reform” plan for Medi-Cal, California’s public insurance program for low-income people. Newsom wants to invest $695 million to help the state’s most vulnerable residents, including homeless people and those with mental health problems, in unconventional ways, such as housing aid.

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