Sep 2, 2020
California Governor Gavin Newsom September 2 Press Conference Transcript
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (05:56)
Good afternoon. So, I was having a casual conversation with a friend of mine last night, talking about some of the work we’re doing on rental protection here in the state of California. I started talking about what BCSH would be doing, how that related to the CDC’s new guidelines, a week after Fannie and Freddie and the folks at HUD had put out some new guidelines, and I realized quickly that I was not only confusing him, I was confusing myself. This whole area of rental protections, the issues of evictions, can make your head spin, particularly if you’re just someone that simply wants to know what the heck is going on and how can I avoid being evicted from my home because of the impact that COVID-19 has had on my job and my capacity to actually make ends meet.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (06:42)
So, in an effort to try to make sense of all of that, I’m going to try to make sense of what the state of California is doing in relationship to what housing and urban development has done, in relationship to what the CDC has done with regard to some national guidelines on evictions and foreclosures, but really lay out the strategy for this state pursuant to a bill I signed close to midnight 48 hours ago that we believe will protect millions and millions of renters here in the state of California. We actually have a website as well that we hope can clarify and allow for the ability for you and your family to try to navigate some of the most frequently asked questions and access resources so that you can get a real concrete response during this very anxious time, but I want to lead with this.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (07:45)
California is very proud of its leadership, leading the nation in renter protection. You may recall last year, Bill 1482. We’ve set forth the strongest eviction protections in the United States of America. Statewide rent cap was put into place. We were able to work with the legislature, work with some settlement dollars that came from an old mortgage settlement that the state had to loosen up the availability of $351 million for counseling services, direct grants, aid to tenants, as well as homeowners, which is an important part of this conversation. Clearly, COVID has had a profound impact, and despite having some of the strongest renter protections in the nation, that has not ameliorated the stress, the anxiety that millions and millions of renters and homeowners are facing, struggling clearly with this pandemic.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (08:48)
So, we’ve been working very closely with the legislature over the course of the last number of months. We had put together a number of stop-gap efforts around executive orders and what we refer to in this state as the judicial council did the same, but those all expired. So, we needed to work in a more inspired way to come together as legislature, the governor, with advocates representing every perspective of this debate, and we moved forward with new legislation that fundamentally addresses what you see on this page, and that is the impact this virus has had on millions of you. Rather, 5.4 million renters at risk now of losing their homes, small property owners being foreclosed on because they can’t make mortgage payments because renters can’t make the monthly payments, and can see just from this chart, the impact is disproportionate on our diverse communities, the African American Latino community in particular, in the state of California, vulnerable millions vulnerable to being evicted thrown out on to the streets.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (10:04)
The Turner Institute came up with a survey that estimated just in the state of California, that renters specifically as a class in this state have experienced anywhere from a 50 to 66% drop in their income since this pandemic, and that is profound and clearly impactful. So, this legislation was foundational in terms to try to stabilize for the moment that reality for millions and millions of Californians. What we have is new eviction protections where an individual tenant fills out a hardship declaration related to the impact of COVID-19 specifically on their ability to make monthly rental payments. We’ve extended our protections through February 1st of next year. So, no evictions for rent nonpayment related to COVID-19 through February 2021. There are provisions in the bill, provisions that we’ve advanced, where people that can, we would like to see them make partial rent payments over the next number of months, roughly 25% at least.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (11:21)
That’s a minimum, rental payments to help support this collective effort. Again, we’re not only supporting renters. We want to be very sensitive to the needs particularly of small property owners, people with just a few units, people that literally maybe inherited property or saved money, put everything on the line to buy a few rental units, and they have a mortgage that they took out and they rely on you as a tenant to make those payments in order to make their payments. So, all of this had to be considered and all of this was as it relates to new foreclosure protections that we put into this bill to expand homeowner bill of rights for units, one to four units, as well as to expand borrower rights as it relates to forbearance. Long way of saying, this is all in relationship to how the banks interact with small property owners and putting some light, putting some protections in place in that area as well.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (12:25)
In effort, as I said to make some understanding of all of this, the state of California has put together a new website, and I’m going to ask in a moment that the head of BSCH, which is our Business Consumer Services Housing, basically our housing agency for the purposes of this presentation. Lourdes will come up and she will talk about her work in putting together this site, HousingIsKey.com. HousingIsKey.com. That’s the new site. If you can’t write that down or don’t remember it, but you remember the COVID19.ca.gov website, the main website, the main platform, we have this information on that site, COVID19.ca.gov. But this new HousingIsKey site is a website that will provide guidance, more importantly, resources, again, not just for tenants, but landlords, homeowners, and the like, talk about the details of our new eviction framework, what the protections are, what they’re not, and try to help explain all of this in a way that not only you can understand, but your lawyer can understand as well.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (13:34)
Toolkits, legal aid, resources, as you see, and a FAQ section, frequently asked questions section. Here’s a static picture of that homepage of HousingIsKey, and it is now appropriate at this moment that I now turn over this presentation to Lourdes Castro Ramírez, who has worked so hard in her capacity as chair of this agency, to make sure that the site is dynamic, up and running, and means something, and I say means something to everybody, every Californian, and you’ll see the reverence to California for all, always mindful that California has the most diverse state in the world’s most diverse democracy, and we recognize we speak many languages. Sometimes we speak past each other. We don’t want to do either. We want to make sure that we meet people where they are, and Lourdes is here to do just that as she explains the site a little bit more, but also provides some remarks in Spanish as well.
Lourdes Castro Ramírez: (14:47)
Thank you so much, Governor Newsom. [Foreign Language 00:14:49] As the governor mentioned, I’m Lourdes Castro Ramírez, and I serve as the secretary of California’s Business Consumer Services and Housing Agency, and just want to acknowledge the leadership of-
Lourdes Castro Ramírez: (15:03)
… and just want to acknowledge the leadership of our governor. I definitely agree with him when he says that it’s very important that we make sense of our housing system. I think we’re firm believers that we need to do much more to coordinate and ensure that we have a housing system that provides housing services from homelessness to home ownership. And so as we all know, during this pandemic, many tenants have struggled to pay the rent and may be just one paycheck away from losing their apartment or the place that they call home. Thanks to the new law that has been signed by the governor just on Monday, and of course, with the leadership of the legislature, no renter can be evicted from their home if they’re experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19.
Lourdes Castro Ramírez: (15:54)
And today, as the governor mentioned, we are excited to be able to launch this one dedicated site, to help educate and provide the resources that tenants, landlords, homeowners, and also our partner agencies will need to help navigate through these protections to ensure that nobody loses their place that they call home. The Housing is Key campaign will provide Californians with information in multiple languages, with resources as outlined. And so we invite you to visit the covid19.ca.gov or HousingIsKey.com. And now I’d like to pivot and share some remarks in Spanish for our Spanish speaking audience and community members.
Lourdes Castro Ramírez: (16:47)
[foreign language 00:16:52].
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (19:30)
Thank you, Loris. And so that’s the site and we hope people take advantage of it, avail themselves of it. And in effort to avail you of a little bit of deeper insight into understanding of what occurred over the last 24 hours, you may have read that the federal government came out with some new federal guidelines through the CDC that put forth some tenant protections that last through the end of this year. Our protections are not impacted by those federal rules and regulations. Our protections go a little farther than the federal government. There’s no income cap as the federal government currently has. Again, ours go through February 1st of next year, they don’t expire at the end of this year. The reference to Fannie and Freddy and Housing and Urban Development, all of those, again, separate tracks, part and parcel of, well, the broad swat of our landlord and mortgage back assistance, and other federal agencies that are in this tenant and landlord space.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (20:38)
Again, not to confuse you, we’re just trying to, again, find our own place in this madness mix. And California, again, is leaning in more aggressively than we believe any other state in this country. And this resource guide, this website, hopefully will clarify any specific questions you have. And one of those questions, by the way, that you may have is, I live in a community. They actually go even further, all local ordinances, all local rules and regulations are not impacted affected by the federal guidelines that just came out, nor what the state of California is doing. So got to weave through a little bit all over this. We’re hoping to make it a little bit easier on this Housing is Key website, and we encourage you to avail yourself to it. And I just want to thank all of the good work that was done by the California legislature and legislative leadership.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (21:32)
A lot of key staff that worked very aggressively and diligently to get that bill done and to quite literally get it signed before midnight deadline, which we were able to accomplish late Monday evening. What Loris just referenced though is not just the issues of housing, she also referenced the issue of homelessness. It goes without saying, these things are connected, putting millions and millions of Californians at risk of being removed from their homes, from their apartments, would obviously impact a greater call in terms of addressing and ending homelessness here in the state of California. This remains the top priority of our administration. As we battle COVID, we have not taken our eye off the ball in terms of our responsibility to address the issue of homelessness. We came in to the year with this being our top priority. We’re going to continue to focus on this through the end of this year.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (22:34)
And I can assure you for many, many years to come as we must do more and do better in this space. And so I wanted to give people just an update, brief update as it relates to some of those efforts. Last year, you may have seen, and we talked a lot about it, we put an unprecedented amount of support to address the issue of homelessness. Supporting cities and counties with discretionary money, the likes of which they’ve never had in the past. Close to a billion dollars direct supports for homelessness. That’s not our entire housing portfolio, that’s just specifically targeting the issue of homelessness. It’s not just about spending money, and I recognize that, it’s a resourceful mindset. Doing things differently is also foundational in our approach and that is deeply part of our focus as we moved into this new year.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (23:27)
We did $628 million in this last budget, despite historic budget shortfalls. We put an additional $628 million in emergency aid to help support cities and counties under the pressure of COVID-19 and the economic outcomes as a consequence. We also announced efforts this year to put $600 million into a new initiative, Project Homekey. I’ve talked about it in the past. I’ll talk a little bit more about it in a moment, but all total, $1.25 billion was put into this year’s budget more than last year, despite the budgetary challenges. More than last year to focus on an emergency approach, a direct service approach to create, as we say in psychology, a pattern interrupt to what we see out on the streets and sidewalks. And I am not naive because I see exactly what you see and I can assure you, we are just winding up in many of these efforts. Project Homekey comes from a program many of you are familiar with, which is our Roomkey program.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (24:41)
Just since April, and I think this is an important slide, just since April, we took pen to paper, came up with an idea and looked at this COVID crisis a new as it relates to the issue of homelessness. And we have provided housing for 22,000 people just in the last few months. Years and years to build up a system and overnight, just in the last 100 plus days, we are able to serve over 22,000 individuals. We were able to procure over 16,000 hotel rooms, 344 different hotels in 55 of our 58 counties, including sovereign tribal nations that participated in this unprecedented effort, this unprecedented program. We want to build on that program as we built last year an additional point of access, and that was 1,345 new trailers that we were able to get out to 26 counties and two tribal nations.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (25:42)
By the way, 1,345 trailers, these trailers were delivered and these trailers are not just for one individual, many families are in these trailers. Many individuals have cohorted in these trailers. It’s been, again, part and parcel of our emergency response to deal with this crisis, all part again of the Project Roomkey effort. But as I said, this Roomkey effort now is merging into a Homekey strategy. More permanence. That was an emergency response, now we need a permanent response. And I’ve long believed that homelessness is solved through permanent supportive housing. I said it many, many times that shelter solves sleep, but housing and supportive services solve homelessness. I’ve had a bias for decades, housing first. Housing, as a point of stability, point of pride, a key, a lock, place to call your home. Then you start dealing with the underlying issues, the reason people are out in the streets and sidewalks in the first place.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (26:50)
But stability is foundational. You live out on the elements, you live under a freeway overpass and someone says, well, maybe you shouldn’t self-medicate any longer. That’s harder to convince an individual than when they have a place to call their home, place where they feel safe, where they can actually put their belongings, where they could take a deep breath and they can start textualizing the conditions that led to their situation in the first place. And so that’s why we have put tremendous effort and very gratified that this effort was supported by the legislature, supported by many in the advocacy community and many cities and counties, which I’ll get to in a moment. 600 unprecedented, $600 million program to purchase permanent hotels and motels and apartment buildings throughout the state of California so we can convert to being part of our permanent stock of support.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (27:46)
Not all permanent supportive housing, many transitional housing, many of these units could be used for a myriad of purposes, but provide us assets this state has never had in the past. And let me just make this crystal clear, as a former mayor, the state hasn’t been focused on the issue of homelessness. It hasn’t been a focus of many, many administrations. It’s not a point of critique, it’s just factual. It has been focus of mayors primarily and county officials that, well, have been burdened with this challenge. And we’re trying to change that paradigm, build capacity, built partnership, recognizing that it is localism that’s determinative, meaning local government has to drive, actually deliver, but the state is now providing more in the ways of support than we ever have. Again, we’re just getting started. I recognize the conditions all throughout the state of California.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (28:46)
They’re unacceptable and we’re going to have to significantly do more, and particularly into the next year, as we work our way out of COVID and deal with the economic challenges, self evident that this has to be our top priority and it is. So $600 million was set aside in the budget to purchase these hotels and motels. Here’s the good news, 138 applications have already come in just in the last few weeks from 67 jurisdictions across this state. They say in marketing lexicon, they’ve oversubscribed the total amount that’s been allocated, which is a wonderful problem to have, a challenge nonetheless. Now we’re trying to be even more resourceful to see if we can find more resources in addition to the 600 million. These units must be acquired by the end of the year so there’s a date with, as we say, destiny.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (29:40)
Meaning this is not one of those open-ended things where you hear of an initiative, it never gets done. It’s wittered away and the money is diluted. This is a different approach, focused, precise, measurable, real transparency, more important, accountability at the local level to acquire these units by the end of the calendar year. The good news-
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (30:02)
… that’s by the end of the calendar year. The good news is the applications have come in and the per-unit cost is actually below the state’s estimate. For landlords, don’t get any ideas there in terms of your negotiating capacity. We’re still going to negotiate down because of the bulk strategy here, this per-unit cost. But the good news is these dollars are being stretched further than we had anticipated.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (30:27)
I just wanted to highlight all of that, because it’s incredibly important to me, personally, professionally, in terms of my roles and responsibility here as your governor. One of the really remarkable things that came out of all of the stress and the travails of COVID-19 was the innovative mindset on this issue and that’s manifest in this Home Key strategy and manifest in the new approach to, again, housing as an element, housing as the building block, housing as our foundational principle first, in order then to build the building blocks of self-sufficiency, which is ultimately what we are advancing. This is not a permanent mindset. We want people to move through these building blocks of opportunity on to self-sufficiency, but they need that stability and Home Key, we believe, will go a long way, one of many programs, but go a long way to providing that.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (31:26)
With regard to moving forward and going a long way together, we have been on this journey over the last three-plus weeks battling these historic wildfires. I, yesterday, was with the head of FEMA, head of many state agencies, the head of Cal Fire among others that toured a number of other sites throughout Northern California that had been impacted directly by these wildfires. We were out in what we refer to as the CZU complex yesterday, and talking to residents, talking to local elected and local leaders of every stripe about their efforts to repopulate many of the areas that were directly impacted by these fires. The issues of how the fires have impacted different parts of the state goes without saying. Self-evidently it has impacted different parts of the state differently.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (32:24)
We have currently now 14,900 firefighters that are currently deployed on the lines. That’s down a little bit because we’ve seen some impact. We’ve seen some progress as it relates to getting our hands on top of the spread, these fires. We’re battling over 900 fires across the state of California that has grown by roughly 34, just overnight. Now 1.5 million acres have been burned since this pandemic. We’ve lost tragically eight individuals and have had over 3,100 structures destroyed. By the way, the eight fatalities and the number of structures that we’ve identified as destroyed that’s currently observed and there’s no question that many more structures likely to add that list. Let’s just pray we don’t see any new fatalities.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (33:24)
As it relates to some of the larger complexes, referred to them. Remember, these primarily were lightning, complex fires, many different fires in a geographic area. Many of them coming together as one larger fire. The LNU complex, Lake Napa area in the state of California, Friday was 35% contained, 371,000 acres. You can see today real progress on containment, 76% contained.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (33:54)
You can see in the next slide, the CZU fire 26% contained, that’s where we were yesterday. Some of the most majestic forests anywhere in the world, old growth redwoods going back 1400 years. There’s been real progress on that CZU fire, 26% containment now. Close to 50% containment at 46%.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (34:19)
The SEU fire, and this is the Santa Clara region, 35% containment. When I last presented these slides on Friday and today, you see containment now north of 70% at 72% containment.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (34:33)
Additional fires that we have focused on and is of note, the August fire, which is a larger grass fire, progress, they’re a little stubborn from Friday til today, but progress nonetheless, 20% containment.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (34:48)
The Sheep fire, another one we had highlighted. It had low containment last week, 30% on Friday. The Sheep now over 70% contained.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (34:58)
These are some of the larger fires. The one remaining fire I wanted to highlight is a fire that may not be as large in scale and scope as the LNU or SCU, but is precious in terms of the impact on the resources. This is near some of the world’s most majestic sequoias. Tulare County, stubborn. Again, 0% containment. Now we are at 1%, but nonetheless 1% is progress. But you can see the number of acreage, 23,000 up to 42,000. We, again, monitoring this one very, very closely. That’s it broad strokes update in terms of the wildfires in the state.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (35:41)
Let me just update you quickly on the case numbers on COVID. In the last week we’ve seen a reduction in the total number of cases, COVID-19 cases. 4,708 is our seven-day average. The new numbers came in yesterday, 4,255; and that’s based upon over roughly 110,000 tests that came in. Over 110,000 tests, some 4,255 individuals were tested positive.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (36:13)
We always look at the 14-day positivity rate. You can see this positivity rate now down to 5.1% in the state of California. Interestingly, and I think importantly, the seven day, this is the 14-day positivity at 5.1%, the seven-day positivity is at 4.4% in the state. 4.4% positivity in the state of California over the last seven days. 5.1% over the last 14 days. You also can see the average number of daily tests is starting to go back up again. The impacts of those fires, as we make progress in the fires, we’ll get those testing numbers back up. Now getting close to an average of 110,000 over the last seven days.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (36:59)
Speaking of the last 14 days, we’ve seen a reduction in hospitalizations and ICUs tracking roughly equivalently. 23% decline in hospitalizations over the last two weeks, 23% decline in the total number of ICU patients that we’ve admitted into our system over the last 14 days. Progress ICUs, progress hospitalizations. Real progress we are seeing in sort of stability with our positivity rate, both on the 14- day and on that seven day. You can see the seven-day average down to 4,708 as we continue to get tests north of 100,000, averaging just shy of 110,000 tests. That’s a good sign. But nonetheless, it is a stubborn sign. All of these slides stubborn in terms of the ongoing reality and the importance with that reality to extend a reminder to each and every one of you of the power and potency of the decisions you’ve made to date that have helped us through this latest increase in cases, and that’s wearing those masks, physically distancing, washing your hands and minimizing mixing.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (38:13)
I know this has become rote to you and every time you watch these presentations I repeat this mantra over and over again, but let me do it in anticipation of this weekend, this three-day weekend, the importance of this message. The importance this weekend of wearing the mask. The importance this weekend of trying to avoid and minimize outside of your household mixing with different households and cohorts of individuals, strangers, even friends and extended family that you haven’t seen or been with.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (38:49)
This is so foundational. We saw this a few months back. We started to see progress over an extended period of time and invariably people said, ” Well, it looks like we’re out of the woods. Looks like we’ve tamed this transmission and we can go back even with modest modifications to the way things were.” That absolutely, we must learn from that example. We must absolutely learn from that more recent historic example.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (39:18)
That’s why it’s more important than ever to be vigilant as we work through the next few months, work through this flu season, what we call this twin-demic, the COVID-19 now meeting flu season, and work through this invariable second wave as we get to closer to these vaccines and the high-quality therapeutics that ultimately we will have. The question is what impact will you, what impact will we make in terms of mitigating the spread? Until then that impact is demonstrable by your example and by the potency and power of these simple four tasks.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (40:02)
Thank you again for time and your attention. Again, forgive us for being a little bit over the map today on evictions and homelessness, but I think they’re profoundly connected as they are equally profoundly important at this moment. Progress, again, profound progress on these wildfires. I cannot express more of my gratitude to all of Cal Fire men and women and all the mutual aid from across not only the state, but all across the country that’s really done an extraordinary job at this historic moment with these historic wildfires in this state.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (40:39)
With that happy to ask any, or answer any questions.
Speaker 1: (40:42)
Adam Beam, Associated Press.
Adam Beam: (40:47)
Governor, the state legislature has finished its work for the year. Lawmakers failed to pass some high-profile bills on housing and police reform and other issues and partly in part because legislative leaders said they ran out of time in a virus- shortened session. Would you call the legislature into a special session this fall to address some of these issues and other issues related to the pandemic’s impact, including broadband access for distance learning?
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (41:12)
Yeah. If necessary, I’m open to that. Working with legislative leaders, we’ve had many discussions over the course of the last number of months. There were some procedural issues that you’re referencing. There were some issues that were rather curious, where both houses passed legislation. We were looking forward to seeing that legislation land our proverbial desk for signature. I’m always open to that, but that’s based upon a specific criteria, a specific agenda and necessity as it relates to any of those ideas or any others that may for procedural and or other reasons fallen short because of COVID-19.
Speaker 1: (41:51)
Dustin Gardiner, SF Chronicle.
Dustin Gardiner: (41:55)
Hi. Thank you, Governor. Regarding the legislative session, several major housing bills failed, including SB1120, related to duplexes that Pro Temp Atkins sponsored. Do you wish you had done more to increase urgency around these bills? Do you feel you could have done more in that sense?
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (42:13)
Well, we did a lot. We were highlighting them here in our news conferences. We were working very aggressively with legislative leaders. In fact, that bill passed both houses. One specific example of a bill that a lot of people worked hard on. No one worked harder than the pro temp. Our offices were hand in glove in terms of those housing bills and those packages. Unfortunately that was the case. That’s what occurred.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (42:41)
We are looking forward to jump-starting those conversations. We’ve got 18 bills done last year. A number of housing bills did make their way to my desk. A number of areas that we continue to work on where we’re committed to the cause. I think both the legislative leaders, both representing the assembly and the senate are committed as well. A lot of work has been done this year, which will lay the foundation for us to move very, very quickly into the new session. But, again, we are working very, very closely with Speaker Rendon and Pro Temp Atkins, and very grateful, particularly the senate’s leadership with those bills. Just unfortunate that a number of them are not making their way to my signature.
Speaker 1: (43:29)
Brady MacDonald, The Orange County Register.
Brady MacDonald: (43:30)
Hey, Governor. I had two questions related to theme parks. First, how do theme parks fit in to the new four-tier plan? Do you envision theme parks reopening with outdoor operation first and then indoor capped at 25% or 50%?
Brady MacDonald: (43:47)
Then, second, you mentioned that on Friday you were meeting an amusement park space. I was wondering how that went and if any progress was made?
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (43:55)
Yeah, we’re making a lot of progress in that space. The reason we set it aside, we bracket it, and I appreciate you recognizing we made that, we noted that last week when we put out these new four-tiered guidelines, is we still have work to do. All I can leave you with is progress is being made. We’re still working on some details. As soon as we are at a point where we can socialize and make public, we will.
Speaker 1: (44:20)
Patrick McGreevy, LA Times.
Patrick McGreevy: (44:23)
Hello, Governor. Many residents say they’re getting dozens of letters from the EDD regarding claims for unemployment benefits, benefits that they did not file in the names of people they do not know. They’re concerned that fraud may be involved. Have you been made aware of this issue? What’s the EDD told you about what’s going on? To what extent are you concerned about fraud schemes that are targeting the state unemployment system during the pandemic?
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (44:47)
Yeah. We’ve talked about it on multiple occasions in the past. The answer is, yes, we are concerned about fraud in this space. I think a week or so ago, we talked about some specific instances. You’ve added to an example, one of legions of example-
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (45:03)
… added to an example, one of legions of examples of people across the spectrum, not just at EDD that try to take advantage of taxpayers, take advantage of others. And we are working with local authorities as well as state agencies, working with federal authorities across jurisdiction, to weed that out, to call that out. And I appreciate you highlighting that as it is a top priority for all of us, again at every jurisdiction, federal, state, and local.
Speaker 2: (45:33)
Alex Michaelson, Fox 11.
Alex Michaelson: (45:37)
Aye. Governor, thank you for the question and no grenades coming today. The issue of homelessness, you talked about it about some of the progress that you’ve made, and clearly there is some progress being made on that front, but there’s also such a problem that remains so many people still on the streets. And I’m wondering now that you sort of have some time to think about this, what do you think is really working in terms of what you’re doing and perhaps what is not working in terms of what you’re doing? And is there any thought also in terms of commercial real estate, which is now not being used as much because people are working from home, maybe using some of that for housing?
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (46:16)
Yeah. The reality is the answer to that is yes, and local government has the capacity now and the resources they have not had in the past and the flexibility that they haven’t necessarily had in the past to be creative in that respect. And to look at modifying existing use, to have the ability to move money at the local level, regional level, as well as the city level to match a sense of urgency that’s needed to address this issue.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (46:44)
Look, here’s my belief, a couple of things. It took us decades to get to where we are. I noted in my state of the state and I’d encourage you to go back to my state of the state. We are committed to all of the things that we announced in that state of state. Of course, none of us saw this pandemic coming as it relates to the impact, that broader agenda and vision as related to the pandemic, meaning we’ve been impacted in terms of the pace of some of the things that we promoted, but we are resolved nonetheless, to continue to advance those specific proposals and more broadly, that agenda and fundamentally, and this goes to your question.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (47:31)
The fundamental agenda is from my humble perspective, what doesn’t work is continuing to do what you’ve done. You have to do things differently. There are certainly programs that work, they were deserved to be replicated, but there are programs that do not work and we need to call them out. Just because you have a program just because you have good intentions, doesn’t mean you’re producing real results. There has to be more accountability, more accountability providers, more accountability of local government.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (48:01)
More accountability for people to say, “You know what? This is not someone else’s problem. This is not another city’s problems, it’s not another county’s problem. We’re going to take responsibility.” We have a role to play, and that’s our approach on housing as well. Just ask those 47 cities that we put on notice relating to meeting their housing element and their goals as it relates to constructing more units.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (48:23)
So our approach now it’s, we’ve been in here, this is just the second year. Our second legislative session. Our approach is more accountability, lot more transparency. We’re going to provide more resources, but we’re going to expect better results. And the area where I think we can agree on that can produce demonstrably results is again, focusing on assets. These permanent assets, the ability to convert hotels and motels and buildings at lower costs and the time to actually converting them happening within months. Not literally many, many years, I think can, can provide us more resources than the state has ever seen a more capacity to see results.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (49:08)
Because what you want at the end of the day, you want to see people moved off the streets. So many people think of homelessness. I think homelessness broadly, most people think about it as street population, that’s one subset, chronic homeless. That chronic homeless issue has exploded in the state over the last number of years. It’s unacceptable and we have to hit it head on. We have to do it ethically, morally. We have to do it compassionately, but we also have to do it with more accountability and more transparency.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (49:38)
And look, I’m a taxpayer, just like the rest of you watching. It’s not just about more and more money, we want to see more and more results. And so this Project Home Key is about moving in that direction. This is a big, bold push. Trust me, in the past, it’s been incremental. Been few million dollars here, a few million dollars there maybe hit $ 10 million and everybody thinks this is a historic moment. We’re talking about close to three quarters of a billion dollars. We’re going to leverage more money than that 600 million overnight, just in a few months in this space. That’s something we’d never seen in the state’s history.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (50:15)
And so I think that could prove to be very, very instrumental in jump-starting a completely new narrative as it relates to this issue. And if it doesn’t, we’ll own that and we’ll come up with new strategies. It’s one of many strategies, but maybe the most foundational. And it will anchor from my perspective, the new approach that we’re advancing here in this state and that new approach was again, enunciated in that state of the state. And that includes across the spectrum, additional strategies, particularly on the issue of mental health, on issues of conservatorships on our proposal, we referenced called CalAIM.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (50:52)
We’re not walking away from CalAIM. We may have had to delay the $695 million investment in that proposal to integrate brain health and integrate physical health and lead the nation in this reform. And that’s foundational in any real strategy to address the homeless issue. But that proposal is still very much in play and we are going to continue to advance it. And as the resources present themselves, I can assure you, we will mark that moment where we forgive the language, turn the page on the politics, or the status quo on this issue and move to a more enlightened and more demonstrably successful direction tackling this issue.
Speaker 2: (51:40)
Ryan Heat, K73.
Ryan Heat: (51:44)
Hi Governor, more specific question about those EDD fraud letters. What is your understanding of how widespread this fraud may be? And also what’s your reaction to the call from some legislators for a swift emergency audit of EDD to better understand the scope of this fraud problem?
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (52:02)
Yeah, we’ve got a brand new team, five new people we just put into place at EDD just in the last few weeks. So five new people with fresh perspective, new capacity to get in under the hood and figure this out in real time.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (52:15)
I appreciate the legislative urgency. We’ve worked very closely with many legislative leaders in this space. We share the same goals, we share the same urgency. And one of the most important things we could do was get a new team of people in there. And that’s exactly what we’ve done to get under the hood and figure out how would spread this. Again, you’re focused on one part of the EDD challenge. There are many challenges that we also have to address in real time.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (52:43)
And this specific example of fraud is not the only example of people trying to game and take advantage of the system. And then of course, beyond all of that, the imperative that is our focus as well by September 10th, by September 10th, of getting that $300 incremental payment into people’s hands into their pockets, rather or into their checking and savings accounts. September 10th, getting that $300 drawn down, getting that system up and running, which is foundational, that’s billions and billions and billions of dollars in the hands of people that really need it. And that is equally a top priority of this administration.
Speaker 2: (53:25)
Final question, Angela Heart, Kaiser Health News.
Angela Heart: (53:31)
Hi governor. I wanted to ask you an election question. I wonder how much you think COVID-19 is going to shape the national debate over healthcare in November, at both the state and the national level? And I’d be interested to hear your thoughts, especially because the state is making lots of big healthcare plans regardless of COVID-19 and leading defense of the ACA. So I guess I just wonder if you see that fitting into the discourse of the November election, and if so, how?
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (54:02)
Yeah. Politicians make lousy pundits, so forgive me. I may leave you wanting as it relates to my punditry on this the next 62 days, sadly from my humble perspective, may be about other things, distractions, little things that become big things that are advanced in order to divide. Issue of healthcare foundationally, we’ll continue to focus on and continue to lead on. And I appreciate you highlighting the defense of the Affordable Care Act that this state is actually taken that third leg of the stool that was vandalized by the Trump administration, as it relates to the mandate. And we reconstituted that, and as a consequence, and you’ve seen this demonstrably as it relates to the impact of that decision, increasing total number of people enrolled in our exchange, but also lowering the costs or at least reducing the impact on healthcare costs growth. Which has been significant in the last few years because of the great work Peter Lee and others have done on our exchange.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (55:15)
We want to build on that. We want to continue to advance our efforts to reform the Medi-Cal system. And that’s a big part of the CalAIM proposal that I just referenced a moment ago. We’re going to continue to drill down on runaway prescription drug costs, this California RX looking potentially manufacture our own generics, or at least partner with a manufacturer to create our own California generics in this state, use our marketing muscle, our marketing power to leverage lower costs for individuals. As well as continue to expand our coverage, including deepen subsidies to the middle-class, which are struggling, particularly at this moment through this pandemic. Look, let me just end on this. It is box A or rather door A or door Z in terms of the contrast between these two candidates in terms of your healthcare, your future, your family’s healthcare, your family’s future.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (56:19)
We can quite literally go backwards, an administration that wants to get rid of actively, wants to get rid of healthcare for tens of millions of people with preexisting conditions or eliminate healthcare expansion by eliminating the Affordable Care Act and it’s progress it’s made in this country. And another that actually helped design it and help build it and wants to create a more competitive environment to drive down costs and increase expansion through a public option and the like. Clearly, from my humble perspective, one candidate fits the needs of this state by creating a dynamic where we can accelerate our healthcare reforms and have a real partner that can advance those reforms to lower costs and improve quality as well as expand access in real time. So we are very, very eager. We are very hopeful this is a bigger part of the discussion in the next 62 days. But I’m not naive about how the nature of presidential politics works, but I can assure you this, whatever happens in November, California will continue to lead and we will be creative and work with through or around whatever obstacles come in our way.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: (57:32)
And so I want to thank everybody for all the work that you’ve done to help us get to this point where we can lay claim to that 4.4% positivity rate. Let’s get this down and let’s knock this thing down even further. We still have work to do to get this transmission rate down. We still have a lot of work to do in parts of the state, certain counties in the state that are struggling more than other parts of the state. But again, do your part. We will collectively come out the other end much more quickly, and certainly with the kind of resiliency that all of us expect of this great state. Take care of anybody, look forward to catching up in the next few days.