CA Republican criticizes Gavin Newsom's homeless strategy: 'You can't keep throwing money at the symptoms'

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., joined “Fox News Live” to break down his criticism of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s and the state’s efforts to combat its homeless and mental health crisis.

“You can’t keep throwing money at the symptoms,” Issa argued.

California recently voted to approve a ballot measure, Proposition 1, allowing the state to raise a $6.4 billion bond to build mental healthcare facilities as well as drug and alcohol treatment clinics.

California spent $22 billion in 2021 to help address the state’s homeless and mental health crisis. The latest estimate puts the state’s homeless population at 181,000.

“That $22 billion that the governor spent, he spent that basically buying hotel rooms to put people in for a night, two nights, 10 nights,” Issa said.

CALIFORNIA VOTES TO SPEND $6.4B ON HOMELESS CRISIS DESPITE SPIRALING DEBT

Homelessness in California under Governor Gavin Newsom has increased from 151,00 in 2019 to 181,000 in 2024. (Fox)

Issa argued that the state’s focus on short-term solutions, such as temporary hotel accommodations, fails to address the underlying cause of the issue, such as drug and alcohol abuse driven by mental health disorders.

“The reason people are on fentanyl is they have disorders. The people who are on fentanyl, if they didn’t have disorders, have them. When we look at what is going on, why most people are homeless, it’s actually drug and alcohol abuse. So fixing it requires that they spend the money that they extracted from taxpayers properly, and they haven’t done that,” Issa said. “You cannot get rid of homelessness simply by giving somebody a hotel room for the night. You’ve got to cure the drivers of this homelessness.”

The California Republican also linked the homeless crisis to organized theft rings, suggesting that “weak” laws under Proposition 47 have facilitated the trade of stolen goods for drugs like fentanyl.

When asked about the “main driver” of the mental health crisis by Fox News anchor Eric Shawn, Issa doubled down on “mental health, including addiction.”

CA’S NEWSOM CALLS FOR SUPPORT FOR HOMELESS CRISIS INITIATIVE, MENTAL HEALTH ADVOCATES SAY IT WILL BACKFIRE

Proposition 1 adds $6 billion to California funding for homelessness. (Fox News)

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“The fact is, it can be treated. We can help many people, but that help is not a hotel room,” he added. “That help is real therapy. We’re in a state where you can’t incarcerate anyone unless they want to be incarcerated, and as soon as they get a little sober, they typically check themselves out and go back and score.”

Issa also suggested a more forceful strategy offering individuals facing felony charges the choice between jail time and “real therapy” rather than a temporary shelter.

“It’s going to take tough love,” he added.

Shawn also asked Issa about calls for a mental health initiative similar to the Marshall Plan.

Kevin McCarthy: Newsom's leadership has failed the Golden State Video

“You’re right about the Marshall Plan, except, remember, this is a Marshall Plan that has to be catered to each individual. You can’t treat a group like you would just a group of hungry people feeding them,” Issa said. “Each one of these people has to be addressed personally and kept in a real supervised situation until they, in fact, can in fact maintain sobriety on their own.”

Christopher Lopez is a digital production assistant for Fox News Digital. He joined Fox News in 2021.

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