CEO Message

CEO Message: Governor’s Top Priority: Homelessness

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This week, Gov. Newsom elevated the state’s homelessness crisis to the top of his administration’s agenda. Having already announced the problem as one of three key priorities in his budget proposal, on Wednesday he devoted his entire State of the State speech to just one topic (never been done before) — homelessness.

In explaining his position, the Governor said, “As Californians, we pride ourselves on our unwavering sense of compassion and justice for humankind — but there’s nothing compassionate about allowing fellow Californians to live on the streets, huddled in cars or makeshift encampments.”

He spoke of dedicating state resources to address the root causes of homelessness, of breaking down bureaucratic barriers to create more housing, of increasing emergency shelters and services, and of creating a statewide housing fund.

Hospitals see this unfolding in their communities and on their doorsteps every day. In your work, you see more starkly than many the sheer numbers of veterans, families, children and so many others who have nowhere to turn for shelter or care — so they knock on your doors for help.

That’s because our mission compels us — we are an essential part of the safety net for our communities.

Where homelessness and health care come together, we’ll continue to ensure those making the highest level policy decisions understand your involvement, your commitment, and your compassion, as we’ve done with our “Homeless Guardians” project. Please take a few minutes to click and watch this compilation of stories, photos, statistics, and videos that illustrates hospitals’ contribution to help people experiencing homelessness.

Your nurses, doctors, case managers, and social workers step up care and connections — with food, clothing, transportation and with others in the community who might be able to help.

Gov. Newsom also noted the intersection of health care and homelessness. He emphasized the important role that behavioral health care will play in any long-term solution, and he pointed to his proposal to reform Medi-Cal in a way that integrates care, targets social determinants of health, and expands whole person care pilots.

“Health care and housing can no longer be divorced. After all, what’s more fundamental to a person’s well-being than a roof over their head?” he said.

This is the issue. These are the communities we serve. Now is the time. We do have a role. What more can we do?

– Carmela