We are approaching December 25 and many throughout the world are preparing to celebrate Christmas.  People will be reflecting on the story of Mary and Joseph searching for a room in Bethlehem to give birth to a baby who would become Jesus, the carpenter and teacher of Nazareth.  That homeless family gave birth to their child in a stable, just as many in California and our nation have come to spend night after night outside in the elements with no home in which to lay their heads.

This is a crisis demanding a response from us immediately. According to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, over the past two years California’s homeless population has shot up 14 percent to over 134,000, which is the most by far of any other state and represents 31 percent of all the individual homeless people in the U.S.  This is a disgrace for the 6th largest economy in the world!

We in the Richmond Progressive Alliance, with many of our allies, protested from day one the criminalization of the homeless imposed by the corporate-controlled Richmond City Council that preceded my being elected to office. We finally succeeded in abolishing all the local laws prohibiting persons lacking a home from sleeping in public places.

But decriminalization is not a solution for homelessness, it is just a starting point. Preventing people from becoming homeless is another essential strategy and that is why we in Richmond passed the first new Fair Rent Control and Just Cause for Eviction law in California in 30 years. We also created a Homelessness Task Force to respond to the needs of homeless individuals and families for homes, jobs, health care including mental health care, and social programs. We need more; we need regional and statewide solutions.

As Lt. Governor, I will address homelessness statewide in various ways and am eager to hear ideas and strategies from others:

  • Pass Single Payer Medicare For All to end financial crises for folks who are ill
  • De-criminalize homelessness
  • Establish statewide rent control and just cause for eviction
  • Eliminate Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act and the Ellis Act
  • Establish a speculator tax [Very high taxes on empty houses]
  • Use state and city properties for temporary shelters
  • Invest state land for a land trust system to build affordable housing
  • Create a State Public Bank and direct it to prioritize financing of low-income housing
  • Introduce universal minimum income
  • Improve public transportation and public education
  • Increase mental health services for all who need them, particularly the homeless
  • Create a statewide office of housing and homelessness to advise policy

We Californians can break ground for a new era – one based on justice, solidarity, kindness, compassion and caring for each other.  As Lt. Governor, I will work with all of you to assure our state puts people first!

May each and every one of you experience the joy of this season in your own way, and remember that we are all sisters and brothers in the struggle for justice.  Together we can build a better future for all!

Corporate-free    People First!