Gov. Gavin Newsom on July 7 announced a $1.1 billion initiative to clean California’s roads and public spaces, including homeless encampments.
“California is the most beautiful place in the world –– but our streets are simply too dirty,” Newsom said in a tweet. “It’s time to clean them.”
The governor said during a July 7 press conference in Richmond, California, that the billion-dollar program will help make the state appear more aesthetically pleasing while creating 11,000 jobs.
Employment for the open positions prioritizes applicants who are formerly incarcerated, homeless, or at-risk youth. Since last week, 400 employees have signed on.
“We believe in second chances,” Newsom said. “We believe in the power of example and redemption.”
While some praised Newsom for his good works, Assemblyman Kevin Kiley questioned the sincerity of the announcement.
“The governor only has turned his attention to real issues when it serves his political interests, and so he did nothing [and] made the situation a lot worse,” Kiley, who will run against Newsom during an upcoming gubernatorial election, told The Epoch Times.
“Polls started showing that people were really concerned about homelessness, so then all of a sudden he made it seem like he was doing something, but then again still made the problem worse.”
The clean-up effort—which includes scrubbing away graffiti, picking up trash, and revitalizing spaces—was initiated after the state witnessed an increase of illegal dumps in 2020. While Caltrans is assigned to clean thoroughfares, Newsom said that the trash removed last year filled 18,000 garbage trucks.
The initiative will help beautify the state while giving struggling Californians a hand up, Newsom said.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, an estimated 161,548 people in California were experiencing homelessness in January 2020, even before the pandemic.
“Never in California’s history have we actually A) had a plan to address the issues of encampments and homeless, and 2) had the resources that we’re putting out this year,” Newsom said. “It’s time to get serious about cleaning up these encampments in the state of California as we equivalently commit to unprecedented resources to help people.
“Time to use our tax dollars a little bit more appropriately. People want to see the results of their hard work.”