Gov. Newsom Sends Trailers, Medical Tents to L.A. County to House Homeless

FEMA trailers are displayed in Oakland before a press conference with California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf about the state's actions to address homelessness on Jan. 16, 2020. (Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

FEMA trailers are displayed in Oakland before a press conference with California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf about the state's actions to address homelessness on Jan. 16, 2020. (Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

California is sending travel trailers and medical tents to Los Angeles County as a temporary solution to homelessness, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday, a day after asking the Trump administration for federal land to build housing.

The tents and 30 travel trailers meant to house homeless families are expected to arrive in Southern California by Feb. 7, though officials are still working to determine exactly where they’ll be stationed, Newsom said in a news release.

L.A. County is the second jurisdiction to get the emergency resources, after 15 trailers were sent to Oakland last week.

“This is one of the many tools in the toolbox we are using to address the crisis head-on,” the governor said in a statement.

Authorities are looking at a handful of sites to install the housing in L.A. County, and it’s unclear when a determination will be made.

The move is part of an executive order Newsom signed this month that also calls for a $750 million fund to pay rents, build affordable housing or help board and care homes, among other things.

Newsom’s request for surplus federal land mirrors the new state efforts. He sent a letter Tuesday to U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson amid an ongoing debate over whether Democratic officials in California are doing enough to ease the homelessness crisis.

The Democratic governor earlier this month directed his administration to identify unused state property by month’s end that local governments or nonprofits can use, so long as it doesn’t delay the development of affordable housing.

That includes state property alongside highways or state roads, state fairgrounds, and vacant hospitals and health care facilities. Applicants will submit proposals for long-term leases on the land to build permanent housing.

“You could match our commitment by similarly providing free surplus federal land to local governments across the state so they can build housing for the homeless,” Newsom wrote in the letter he made public Wednesday.

HUD spokesmen did not immediately comment.

Newsom also noted his other recently announced plans, including $2 billion in spending during the current and upcoming fiscal years.

“A key part of our emergency actions is is deploying 100 emergency trailers and providing state land available for free to local governments to use for homeless housing and shelter,” he wrote. “As you engage California with offers of resources, I hope you will match our commitment to comprehensive solutions that go beyond temporary tent villages. A successful deployment of emergency aid must include a significant federal commitment to housing resources — anything less, and we risk creating permanent homeless encampments on federal land.”

HUD calculates that California’s homeless population increased 16% last year, to about 151,000 people, or more than a quarter of the national total.

The same week Newsom initially announced his plans, President Donald Trump criticized California leaders, particularly in Los Angeles and San Francisco, for failing to adequately address homelessness.

But Trump said in a tweet that if city and state leaders “acknowledge responsibility and politely” ask for help, then his administration “will very seriously consider getting involved.”

KTLA’s Erika Martin contributed to this report.

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