‘The Country Is Watching’: California Homeless Crisis Looms as Gov. Newsom Eyes Political Future
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Driving through the industrial outskirts of Sacramento, a stretch of warehouses, wholesale suppliers, truck centers, and auto repair shops northeast of downtown, it’s hard to square California’s $18 billion investment in homeless services with the roadside misery.
Tents and tarps, run-down RVs, and rusted boats repurposed as shelter line one side of the main thoroughfare. More tents and plywood lean-tos hug the freeway underpasses that crisscross Roseville Road, and spill into the nearby neighborhoods and creek beds.
At one of the more established encampments, Daisy Gonzalez used canvas and carpet scraps to fashion a living room outside her cramped RV. Inside, Gonzalez took a quick hit of fentanyl, and turned to a mirror to apply a fresh face of makeup. As the opioid coursed through her body, her anxiety settled, her thoughts grew more collected. But she knows the addiction can’t end well and recounted a half-dozen failed attempts to get clean.
“I really need to get off this ‘fetty’ and stay clean, but it’s so hard out here,” said Gonzalez, 32, her eyes welling. She turned back to the mirror, finishing her eye makeup. “I want to get help and find a program, but there’s no treatment around here. It seems like nobody cares.”
Across California, homelessness is impossible to escape. Steep increases — Sacramento County saw a 67% rise in its homelessness count from 2019 to 2022 — have so far blunted unprecedented government efforts to fund housing and treatment for people living on the streets. And although some communities have made progress, statewide the gravity of the crisis has deepened.
Encampments have mutated into massive compounds proliferating with hard drugs and untreated mental illness. “Isn’t there supposed to be all this money and housing?” asked Gonzalez’s boyfriend, Joe Guzman, an ex-convict who enforces rules for their encampment. Guzman said he has experience in construction but can’t find a job because of a felony drug record.
THREE SISTERS Starring Oscar Isaac and Greta Gerwig Indefinitely Postponed at New York Theatre Workshop
New York Theatre Workshop has announced that the highly anticipated production of Three Sisters-directed by Sam Gold in a new adaptation by Clare Barron starring Oscar Isaac and Greta Gerwig-has been indefinitely postponed.
Read NYTW’s statement below:
Originally announced as part of the 2019/20 season, the production was initially delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the intervening three years, NYTW has worked to reunite the original company for a summer 2023 production. Unfortunately, new scheduling conflicts have arisen for the production’s in-demand artists which proved to be insurmountable in bringing the production to life during the 2022/23 season. NYTW hopes to be able to bring this new production to the stage in a future season and joins the community in the disappointment of this second postponement.
Because bringing these productions to the stage often takes many months-sometimes years-there will not be a replacement production in the 2022/23 season, which will be shortened to four productions. How to Defend Yourself is currently playing through April 2 and The Half-God of Rainfall will close out the season in spring/summer 2023.
Greta Gerwig had previously worked with director Sam Gold on The Village Bike at MCC Theater, and Oscar Isaac had worked with Gold on Hamlet at The Public. Oscar Isaac is currently starring in Lorraine Hansberry’s The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window at the BAM Harvey Theater.
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Analysis: Most Californians Have Health Coverage. Now Is the Time to Bolster the System
California is a national leader when it comes to providing health care coverage to low-income residents. The state was one of the first, in 2014, to expand Medicaid — known in California as Medi-Cal — under the Affordable Care Act, which allowed millions of previously ineligible low-income adults to qualify for the program.
Since then, California has expanded the program to people without legal immigration status — first to children in 2016, then to young adults in 2019, and most recently to adults 50 and older. Gov. Gavin Newsom has committed to covering all remaining eligible adults by 2024.
These expansions are a major step towards health equity in California, steps I’ve advocated for. But expanding health coverage is only the beginning. Now it’s time for California to lead the way again by shoring up quality and access within the system.
A third of Californians rely on Medi-Cal for health care. But actually getting that care is difficult for many, according to Jose Torres, policy and legislative advocate with Health Access California, a statewide health care consumer advocacy organization. Patients often can’t find Medi-Cal providers in their neighborhoods and have to travel unacceptable distances to get care, he told me. Many also face difficulties finding providers that speak their language or who understand their culture, a factor that worsens racial disparities in health care.
The result is that even though they have health coverage, access to care is often second-rate and serves to perpetuate health disparities. Due to societal inequalities, people of color are disproportionately low-income and enrolled in Medi-Cal.
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