Gov. Newsom earmarks $12 billion for homeless and housing projects

Twelve billion dollars: that's what Governor Gavin Newsom has earmarked for homeless and housing projects in his new budget. Before this, the highest previous investment from the state had been $1-billion.

The governor spoke about the massive investment at a news conference in Mountain View on Friday, and about how he hopes to expand on the success of his Project Homekey program.

In Mountain View, modular units for the homeless went from concept to reality in a matter of months. And non-profit LifeMoves says they're just getting started.

"This is our Homekey 1.0 model. This is a 1.0 model. We're hoping to do at least 10 more of these Homekey projects," says Aubrey Merriman of Life Moves.

And that's about to get a lot easier, thanks to a huge influx of cash.

Governor Gavin Newsom created Project Homekey to help address homelessness during the pandemic.

His new state budget will take it to the next level.

"That will provide $12-billion of investments in housing. It blows through anything that we've done in the past, replicating this model with billions and billions of dollars," says Newsom.

Project Homekey is supposed to help local communities and agencies think outside the box, looking at everything from modular homes, to tiny homes, to converted motels. And they're already seeing results statewide.

 "[6,000-plus] housing units, and units that are being brought online not only in six months, but for a fraction of what it would have cost if we employed the old strategies," says Newsom.

And while homeless advocates say the money will go far, they're concerned.

Several temporary hotel programs for the homeless end soon, and new projects won't be ready fast enough.

"So I'm saying well this sounds great, but we don't have any place for those people to go. There isn't some other place for them to live," says Shaunn Cartwright of the Unhoused Response Network.

In Mountain View, the mayor says they're doing what they can. The new LifeMoves project can house 124 people. The city is also looking at converting the Crestview Hotel.

"Especially during the pandemic, we needed to be flexible, we needed to be creative, and we need to be collaborative. And through Homekey we could be," says Mountain View Mayor Ellen Kamei.

 The governor says President Biden has also identified Project Homekey as a national model and has put $5-billion dollars into the federal stimulus pot for programs like it.