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Could FEMA solve Calif.’s homelessness crisis? One Valley congressman thinks so.

How does California solve its ever-growing homelessness crisis? That’s the million-dollar question for the state’s political and government class, and one that has hit a boiling point with voters and taxpayers.

Earlier this month, while presenting his budget proposal for the year, Gov. Gavin Newsom deputized himself as the state’s “homelessness czar.”

Last week, he criss-crossed the state in a weeklong whirlwind tour aiming to set the tone on his administration’s response to the engulfing crisis – announcing the deployment of temporary shelters across the state while sending millions of taxpayer dollars to hard-hit communities.

In the midst of all the full-court press from Sacramento, you’d be forgiven for missing Washington’s role in aiding the woe-begotten Golden State.

Despite a consistent “California vs. Trump” narrative built by both the state’s politicos and Team Trump, one Valley Congressman thinks that the state could use a little help from 1600 Penn.

As Newsom travelled the state last week, Rep. Josh Harder (D–Turlock) announced a bill that would give the President the authority to declare Homelessness Emergencies in a fashion akin to federal disasters.

If approved, Harder’s Homelessness Emergency Declaration Act would allow a Presidential homelessness declaration to allow allocation of housing vouchers along with resources from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for temporary and permanent shelters.

“Homelessness is an emergency. Let’s call it what it is. Washington and Sacramento need to stop their twitter feuds and start working together to fix this problem – which everyone knows is only getting worse,” Harder said in a statement announcing the bill.

“If we can declare an emergency after a natural disaster that leaves people without homes, we should be able to do the same thing for an economic disaster.”

Housing vouchers, in an of themselves, may have limited effect in a state like California, where Section 8 housing waiting lists are lengthy in nearly every county.

In a release, Barbara Kauss of the Stanislaus Regional Housing Authority noted that her agency hasn’t had an opening from their waiting list in a decade.

Meanwhile, the agency’s current wait list is 15,000 households long.

“The housing shortage is real and immediate,” Kauss said. “Federal support and resources are essential to equip boots on the ground agencies who are ‘relentless housers’ and fight this battle daily.”

Alex Tavlian
Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at alex.tavlian@sjvsun.com.