Governor Gavin Newsom's proposal to include over $1.4 billion in the state budget to address homelessness will help those most in need living on the streets and also help people living on the verge of homelessness. If you're an injured worker navigating long delays in California's workers' compensation system, this could be a much-needed lifeline.
Governor Newsom declared homelessness as "the issue of our time," and he may be right. There was a 16 percent increase in people experiencing homelessness in California last year, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, bringing the state's total homeless population to over 150,000.
And there are many more on the verge. In an attempt to help people living on the brink, Newsom has proposed $750 million to help pay rents, build affordable housing and improve shelters. And it can't come soon enough.
A third of middle-income Americans don't have the ability to cover a $400 emergency, 4 in 10 California households spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing, and 1 in 5 spend more than 50 percent. In the Greater Los Angeles Area alone, over 720,000 people are classified as being severely rent burdened, spending over 50 percent of their income on housing.
Another telling fact: over 40 percent of people experiencing chronic homelessness have some form of physical disability.
With rampant delays in the state's workers' compensation system, caused in part by the lack of Qualified Medical Evaluators (QME) and what has been reported as the nation's slowest rate of care from date of injury to treatment authorization, many California workers are just one work injury away from financial ruin.
While helping those on the verge of homelessness is a great step in the right direction, and one we applaud, fixing medical delays in the workers' compensation system that keep people from getting back to work reduces the size of California's pre-homeless population.