Governor Gavin Newsom spent much of his State of the State speech addressing the singular topic of homelessness. It’s a bold plan with many facets to help people get off the streets, but what should also be included in these discussions are steps to address people living on the brink – the pre-homeless.
While Governor Newsom’s budget proposal does include $750 million to help people pay rent, build affordable housing and improve shelters, his plan doesn’t include steps to address one important issue that likely contributes to California’s homeless crisis: improving California’s workers’ compensation system.
With rampant delays injured workers are facing, caused by what has been reported as the nation’s slowest rate of care from date of injury to treatment authorization, many Californians are just one work injury away from financial ruin.
Many are hanging by a thread as it is.
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.
While we applaud the efforts to reduce homelessness and provide funding to help pay rents, fixing medical delays in the workers’ compensation system that keep people from getting back to work is a crucial step in reducing the size of California’s pre-homeless population that shouldn’t be overlooked.