Jun 30, 2020
California Governor Gavin Newsom June 30 Press Conference Transcript
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Gavin Newsom: (00:00)
… Was defined, or crises in this state, particularly the issue of homelessness. We have not taken our eye off the ball, of focusing with intentionality on addressing the needs of the most vulnerable Californians, particularly those out on the streets and sidewalks. So many struggling with physical disabilities, so many struggling with emotional disabilities. Many self-medicating, drug rock, all addictions, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, paranoia. Many families torn asunder, because of the inability to pay rent and others, through no fault of their own, victims of circumstance and end up in encampments, end up on streets and sidewalks in congregate facilities, shelters large and small all across the state of California.
Gavin Newsom: (00:47)
That issue has always been top of mind, in terms of our administration and our approach in the state of California, to take ownership and to recognize that this state has failed to address the issue of homelessness in a meaningful way. We made a commitment to you, over a year ago, that we were going to engage in ways we hadn’t in the past, to help support counties, help support cities large and small, to address the stresses and the challenges that they face, as it relates to addressing the issue of poverty in all of its forms and manifestations, but primarily as it relates to the issue of homelessness.
Gavin Newsom: (01:26)
Last year we put out a record amount of money to cities, and counties, and regions to help support their efforts. But we recognize it wasn’t just about money. We needed a more resourceful mindset, in terms of addressing the issue. And that required us to take a different approach, a different framework of collaboration. Accordingly, I set forth at the beginning of this year, my State of the State, and I decided to take the entire State of the State Address and make it about one issue, the issue of homelessness, issues related to homelessness, issues related to brain health, mental health broadly defined. Taking a look back, our history, our past, present, and where we wanted to take this state into the future.
Gavin Newsom: (02:09)
We made some bold commitments in our January budget, and no sooner did we make those commitments then self-evidently, we started to address the issues of this pandemic as late as January, early February, repatriation flights into the State of California, a cruise ship off the coast of California into the San Francisco Bay Area, into the Oakland Port. And obviously a pandemic that transcends the borders here in this state, our nation and the rest of the world. Nonetheless, we worked very collaboratively over the course of last number of months, through this crisis to again, focus with intention on the needs of our most vulnerable Californians. And despite all those headwinds, despite all those changing circumstances, we were resolved and we were committed to figuring out a different strategy, a new way to actually produce real results.
Gavin Newsom: (03:03)
I’ve long said the future is not just something to experience, it’s something to manifest. It’s our decisions, not conditions that determine our fate, our future. So we resolve to make new decisions based on changing conditions, and we originated a program. First of its kind, first in the nation. We referred to it as Project Room Key. It was a simple idea, working with our federal partners, working with FEMA primarily, to address our approach to this pandemic. We recognized we needed to do much more to address our most vulnerable Californians that were out in these congregate facilities, out on the streets, sidewalks, and in large encampments all across the state.
Gavin Newsom: (03:46)
The prospect of the spread of this disease, the prospect that this disease would spread to people with underlying health conditions, self-evidently presented itself as an opportunity, but also as a challenge for this state. Accordingly, we worked with FEMA to develop a partnership under Project Room Key that allowed us to move forward to procure hotel rooms, motel rooms like this, here in Pittsburg, where we could get people off the streets, out of encampments, out of homeless shelters, out of their cars, Winnebagos, or maybe their neighbor’s couch, and get them the privilege of a key, a lock, a place to call home and begin to support their recovery, support their return and their opportunity to transfer back with more independence by providing support services.
Gavin Newsom: (04:39)
Project Room Key was born just a few months ago, remarkably, just in April. Here we are a few months later, and we’ve reached some really, I think, significant milestones. We took an idea pen to paper, and today we have 1,000, well, excuse me, 15,679 rooms that we brought in under our portfolio. 15,679 rooms. We estimate 1,000, excuse me, 14,200 individuals. Again, the numbers are, forgive me for stumbling over the numbers. I couldn’t be more proud of an effort, just in a few months, to get 14,200 individuals off the streets, out of encampments and into units like this.
Gavin Newsom: (05:31)
85% of the occupancy for the units that we’ve set aside for asymptomatic, high risk homeless individuals are now occupied. We’re here at a facility, 131 rooms. Almost every single one of them occupied with over 164 individuals behind these doors, getting support services, getting three meals a day, getting the support of incredible leaders like [Amaanah Martin 00:00:05:53] and her team, that embraced this program that is locally driven. State identifies the asset, provides the capacity to get reimbursed from the federal government, and get support from the State of California. But at the end of the day, this program doesn’t work without outstanding local officials doing the job. And she has done a magnificent job with supervisor Glover, and others, that have been out there championing her efforts, supporting them and demanding more, and demanding people in positions like myself to do better, to be even more supportive to the counties, including Contra Costa County.
Gavin Newsom: (06:41)
So we’re proud of the progress. Just in a few short months, 14,200 individuals we estimate now, out of the conditions that made them vulnerable, now in conditions that give them a little bit more security, and give us a little, more and more confidence that we can make a difference and we can make real progress in addressing the issue of homelessness in this state. That’s the progress to date on Room Key, but what I want to announce today more substantively, was the progress we made just yesterday.
Gavin Newsom: (07:15)
I signed a budget to address a $54.3 billion budget shortfall, signed it yesterday afternoon. Through intense negotiations over the course of the last few months, the legislature, myself, we came together around a framework, despite an unprecedented shortfall in such a very focused or short period of time. Again, $6 billion projected budget surplus 100 plus days ago, to a $54.3 billion budget deficit that we had to balance. Unlike the federal government, we have to balance our budgets.
Gavin Newsom: (07:50)
We were able to sign a balanced budget yesterday, but it did the following. It provided an additional one $1.3 billion to cities and to counties to support programs like this. Meaning, despite the deficit, despite the headwinds of stress that we had to do address in balancing our budget, we still made a commitment to lean forward, lean into future, follow through on our commitment to do more and do better for homeless Californians. 900 million of that comes from the state itself. 550 million specifically for acquisition, not just leasing of units like this, but acquiring units like this. And I think this is rather significant, and forgive me again for belaboring this, if I appear to be enthusiastic, it is because I am.
Gavin Newsom: (08:45)
For years, and years, and years as a former county supervisor myself, a former county mayor, I longed to have the resources to purchase assets like this, that would allow us to immediately get people off the street, permanently. The reason I longed for that opportunity, is we all recognize in the State of California, those of us in the county level and the city level, the cost and the time value of money to procure a site, to get the funding, to acquire the site, to get it set up, to do the entitlement process, to get it built, to get it occupied. Three, four, five years go by. And at the end of the day, the price tag in LA right now, it’s about $500,000 per key, per unit.
Gavin Newsom: (09:36)
So you start doing the math. Three to five years, half a million dollars, and you have one unit. If we’re going to solve the magnitude of this crisis, 100 plus 1,000 people in the state, we’ve got to do something faster, with more intention. We got to do something much more aggressively, differently, there I say. And so, this acquisition portfolio, this pool of money, this $550,000 provides this flexibility for the supervisor, for the health and human service teams, for the counties and cities to procure assets like this, $550 million.
Gavin Newsom: (10:15)
We also put additional resources into the hands of the counties, over 300 additional million dollars, 350 to be exact, that allow the counties to help support the services once units, motels, hotels, tiny homes, prefab homes, vacant apartment buildings are purchased that will allow the services to go onsite. Because one thing we know, we don’t think this. Shelters solve sleep. Housing and supportive services solve homelessness, and that’s the framework of what we now refer to no longer as Project Room Key, which was our emergency frame, but now Home Key. A sense of permanency, a sense of place, a framework of opportunity to anchor the progress we made in the midst of this pandemic, and have something very meaningful to show for it moving forward.
Gavin Newsom: (11:13)
So, $1.3 billion. $900 million from the state, money coming from the CARES Act, in additional philanthropic resources. And I’d be remiss if I did not thank Blue Shield and Kaiser for $45 million in funding to help these efforts, to provide supportive services for programs like this as well. So, we’re very proud to make this announcement today. I’m very proud of the leadership here at the local level. 293 hotels like this have been procured in our portfolio in 52 counties, in the state of California. Again, 15,679 rooms. Over 14,000 individuals now, with the dignity of place to call home and a program that is not permanent, Project Room Key, but continues to be extended on a month to month basis through this crisis, and we have no expectation that FEMA will walk away from their commitments anytime soon.
Gavin Newsom: (12:13)
I’d be remiss, by the way, if I didn’t thank Bob Fenton of FEMA, who’s just been an extraordinary leader. The regional director of FEMA whose ingenuity, his entrepreneurial spirit. You talk about the good ones in government, this is one of the best, and it was because of his willingness to work with us that we created this program. And now, interestingly, I pick up the paper the other day, Connecticut’s trying to replicate this program, Hawaii is trying to replicate this program. Now other states are looking to replicate this same program, which we’re very, very grateful for and very, very proud of.
Gavin Newsom: (12:50)
So, I wanted just to share that with you, at the top of my presentation. But as always, the purpose perhaps, for you tuning in to this presentation is to hear the updates on where we are as a state related to COVID-19, total number of positive cases, total number of hospitalized, total number of ICU cases. So let me briefly just update you on the current numbers in this state. In the last 24 hours we had 6,367 individuals. 6,367 individuals that tested positive for COVID-19. We have seen an increase of the total number of positive cases, rather consistently over the course of the last two weeks here in the State of California.
Gavin Newsom: (13:36)
In particular concern is the issue of number of hospitalizations, and the number of ICU patients in this state. Hospitalizations yesterday increased some 6.3%. Number of ICU patients increased 4.3%. I reference the 6.3% and the 4.3%. Yesterday I noted that over a 14 day period, we’ve seen a 43% increase in total hospitalizations in this state, a 37% increase over a two week period, in total number of ICU patients. So we’re seeing an increase, a steady increase in not only total number of positive cases, but total number of hospitalized patients, and total number of patients in our ICUs.
Gavin Newsom: (14:24)
Accordingly, we showed a slide yesterday, and I want to reinforce it again here today. We had a 4.4% positivity rate in this state two weeks ago. Remember, positivity rate is the total number of people tested, and the total number, or rather percentage of people that tested positive. Our positivity rate two weeks ago was 4.4%, over a 14 day period. Today it’s 5.6%, over a 14 day period. When you look just at the last seven days, it’s increased to 5.9%. So that’s a point of caution, point of consideration, and obviously a point of concern. That led to the decisions we made over the weekend, as it relates to shutting down bars in those areas of the state, where we’ve seen an increase in the total spread of the virus, particularly community spread. We’ve also now included some 19 counties on our watch list, and full disclosure, it’s likely to see an additional four counties on the watch list in the next 24 hours.
Gavin Newsom: (15:29)
I want to make this clear and preview, tomorrow we’ll be making some additional announcements on efforts to use that dimmer switch that we’ve referred to, and begin to toggle back on our stay at home order and tighten things up. The framework for us is this, if you’re not going to stay home, and you’re not going to wear masks in public, we have to enforce and we will, and we’ll be making announcements on enforcement tomorrow. But we also have to recognize that the spread, when you’re not at home, in indoor facilities is much more probable than in outdoor settings. And so, we’ll be looking at a lot of the current stay at home orders, or rather we’re start looking at the health orders and health directors in the counties, in relationship to indoor versus outdoor activities.
Gavin Newsom: (16:22)
As I said, that will come tomorrow. So again, please be vigilant. Please wear face coverings. Please practice physical distancing. I cannot say it enough, I said it last week, I said it yesterday. I’ll say it again. We’ve got 4th of July weekend coming up. One of the areas of biggest concern as it relates to the spread of COVID-19 in this state remains family gatherings, not just bars, not just out in streets where people are protesting, and the like. It’s specifically family gatherings, where family members, or rather households, extended and immediate family members begin to mix, and they take down their guard.
Gavin Newsom: (17:06)
They may walk into that barbecue with masks on. They may put the cooler down, immediately the mask comes off and you have a glass of water, and all of a sudden nieces and nephews start congregating around, and then they’re jumping on top of Uncle Joe. And then Uncle Joe’s putting them back to Aunt Jane, and all of a sudden there comes Uncle Bob, two hours late. He gives everyone a hug and they all, “Hey, Uncle Bob, where’s the mask?” And Uncle Bob, “I don’t believe in it.”
Gavin Newsom: (17:35)
So the whole thing starts to take shape, and you start to see kind of spread, that is the top concern that our health officers have when we surveyed them over the weekend, family gatherings. What more concern then, would we have moving into a weekend where family gatherings are part of the tradition of 4th of July? And so, we’re going to need to do more expressing our concern about that, messaging more about the seriousness of face coverings and physical distancing, and really being a little bit more aggressive as it relates to guidelines on 4th of July. So, anticipate that will be coming tomorrow as well. So with that, we’re happy to take any questions.
Scott Shafer: (18:23)
Governor, Scott Shafer from KQED. I’ll try to speak over the horns here, and the protestors. First question from [Aaron Baldessari 00:18:30] at KQED, “What funding is available for ongoing longterm Project Room Key sites? And what will you do to counties that refuse to buy into his program? How are you going to hold them accountable?”
Gavin Newsom: (18:43)
Well, we have 52 counties that have participated in Project Room Key, and we’re very grateful to those 52 counties, and we’re rewarding good behavior. This is not a requirement. I’m not the mayor of California. I can’t demand that at the local level, that counties participate, or cities participate in this program. But those counties, those cities that do, we’re very grateful and they’re being rewarded with funding. Now, new funding in this budget that I just signed, $550 million specifically for acquisition of hotels like this. In addition to that, we’re doing a lot more to provide ongoing support services. Again, $1.3 billion that is being made available in the next year.
Scott Shafer: (19:33)
Governor, Matt Levin from CalMatters asks, “Experts warn of a looming eviction wave that could make thousands more Californians homeless. Once the state of emergency ends, no state law currently protects renters from being evicted for nonpayment of rent during the pandemic. Do you support prohibiting evictions for nonpayment of rent during the pandemic?”
Gavin Newsom: (19:52)
Yeah, look, I extended an executive order in this space. That executive order also provided clarification, provided clarity for counties that would allow them to go further than even the state moratorium on eviction. Difficult and challenging opportunity to express a more comprehensive response with some of the activities in the past. I look forward to following more fully up on that question.
Scott Shafer: (20:20)
And a question from Mackenzie Hawkins, Sacramento Bee. “Is the state offering any incentives to local governments to participate in the program? And if not, do you anticipate that some cities will oppose or decline to participate [crosstalk 00:20:34] just as some already are?”
Gavin Newsom: (20:37)
We’ve done something unprecedented in this nation. We’re providing unprecedented support for cities and counties, to support a program for our most vulnerable residents. We’re making a real impact, and we’ve had 14,200 individuals that substantively had been the beneficiaries of this program. We’re putting an additional $1.3 billion to extend the spirit and principle of this program, and we’re looking forward to working with those counties that haven’t participated, and encourage them to participate. And obviously, we’re going to make sure that those that are participating very actively and successfully, that they’re rewarded in that process as well.
Scott Shafer: (21:17)
Governor, I guess we have time for one more question. As the poor reporter, I feel I have to just say that these are Black Lives Matter protesters holding signs and asking for a redistribution of resources. Governor, San Quentin has over 1,000 inmates, and more than 100 staff there have tested positive. The new state budget you signed, holds county’s responsible for not containing the spread of the virus. Given the strategic and avoidable situation at the prison, how would you characterize the handling of this, and who’s being held accountable?
Gavin Newsom: (21:47)
I’m sorry, the last part of that, Scott?
Scott Shafer: (21:49)
Regarding San Quentin, given the [crosstalk 00:21:51] tragic and avoidable situation at San Quentin, how would you characterize the handling of it and who is being held accountable?
Gavin Newsom: (21:57)
Well, I spoke to this question in detail yesterday, and forgive me because of the noise. Maybe I referred you to comments I made during our press conference yesterday. I know that today it’s 1,082 inmates now have tested positive in San Quentin. We’re bringing in tents. We brought in series of teams to help support the efforts there. We actually are also providing more support with their medical staff, which is a big issue bringing medical staff from other facilities. But again, yesterday I answered that question in terms of the framework and guidelines we’re putting out tomorrow. We’ll be having a very public discussion in the legislature about the details of our plan. Know that we have been very focused on this, and we are working very, very closely with our health director. [crosstalk 00:22:49].
I am done being marginalized and oppressed.
Scott Shafer: (22:47)
$2.5 billion [inaudible 00:22:54] enforcement of state guidance and the mask order. What criteria are you looking at to determine adequate enforcement? And secondly, LA put a mandatory mask order in place weeks before the state did, yet their situation is getting worse. What happened there? Is it due to a lack of enforcement?
Gavin Newsom: (23:10)
We’re focusing, we have a mandate statewide to wear masks. We believe wearing face coverings can mitigate the spread and the transmission of this virus. We think it’s one of the most important non-pharmaceutical interventions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, in this state. As I said, just a moment ago, on top of my remarks, we’ll be doing more to focus on enforcement in this state. Enforcement comes in many different shapes, meaning primarily local enforcement, but also we have, and I mentioned this yesterday and in prior public comments.
Gavin Newsom: (23:44)
We have conditioned $2.5 billion in our state budget on applying the spirit and the letter of the law, as it relates to health directives at the county level. If local officials are unwilling to enforce and are being dismissive of those orders, we will condition the distribution of those dollars, again, $2.5 billion. So, there are financial conditions, there’s regulatory oversight, there’s code oversight. All of those things are part of our overall efforts. OSHA is now very active in this space. Alcohol beverage control is very active in this space. And again, just moments ago, I mentioned that we’ll be making more formal and detailed announcement on enforcement tomorrow.
Scott Shafer: (24:36)
[inaudible 00:24:36] LA County is now closing beaches on the 4th of July. Are you considering something similar statewide?
Gavin Newsom: (24:41)
Yeah, so as I just mentioned at the top of my remarks, tomorrow we will be making new announcements. I specifically referenced the concerns around 4th of July, family gatherings related to 4th of July more broadly, even beyond just 4th of July. And obviously we are looking at issues of transmission and community spread, throughout sectors in our economy, not least of which issues around concerns with activities coming up this week. And look, there are a lot of activities around here, which is good, and I’m grateful for the energy and the spirit that brings people out to events like this. I’m grateful as always, for those that want to raise the alarm bells of concern about a lot of causes we all hold dear.
Gavin Newsom: (25:27)
But again, the cause that brought us here today is a deep commitment to address the needs of the most vulnerable Californians, are homeless, and I could not be more proud and privileged to have signed a budget yesterday that fulfills a commitment that we made to continue to make historic investments, despite the headwinds and budgetary constraints, and continue to process programs that we think are really making a difference in people’s lives. Project Home Key is one of them, or Room Key now referred to as Project Home Key moving forward, with a sense of more permanency.
Gavin Newsom: (26:03)
As always, we encourage you to wear face coverings, practice, physical distancing, and continue to do your best to meet this moment head on. I want to just close by saying this. We bent the curve in the State of California once, we will bend the curve again. Mark my word, we will crush this pandemic. We will annihilate it. We’ll get past this, but we’re going to have to be tougher, and we’re going to have to be smarter, in terms of our approaches, we are committed and resolved to do that. Look forward to sharing more information as we do on a daily basis with you, including tomorrow. Take care, everybody, and thanks again for the opportunity to share those thoughts with you.
Speaker 4: (26:41)