A report into the spending of California’s Department of Transportation, and aired exclusively by Fox 11, has revealed that the state spent $13 million in taxpayer’s money guarding homes that were completely vacant, amid reports that the homelessness crisis is set to get worse due to the effects of the pandemic in the state.
A state auditor revealed in a report released in February of this year, that the state of California had spent over $13 BILLION since 2018 attempting to create a quick fix for the housing crisis, all whilst they were paying private security firms to guard 120 vacant homes that had been purchased 60 years ago.
A waste of money?
The report revealed by Fox 11 states that Caltrans, between the months of November 2020 and April 2021, paid out $9 million to the highway patrol to guard these empty houses, before paying up another $4 million to a private security firm to continue guarding the homes for an extra 5 months.
After the report surfaced, Caltrans released a statement to Fox 11, claiming that the homes were purchased 60 years ago by the state, as part of a project to link 710 to the 210 in the city of Pasadena.
The statement claimed that now the project is no longer progressing, they intend to sell these homes under the Affordable Sales Program which provides a pathway to ownership for first-time buyers.
Caltrans stated that security was hired to protect the homes throughout this process and that security costs have significantly reduced since December.
However, there is still opposition from numerous officials and advocates.
The homelessness crisis
The state of California is in the middle of a devastating homelessness crisis, worsened by the effects of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns that followed.
It is estimated that 161,000 citizens are experiencing homelessness at this very moment, more than any other state in the country.
An audit, that was released in February of this year and reported by ABC, stated that California had spent a massive $13 billion over the last 3 years to tackle the issue of homelessness, concluding that the state has, and will continue to have the largest number of homeless people due to their “disjointed approach” to tackling the crisis.
This is a sentiment that is supported by Democrat Representative Judy Chu, whose district includes the San Gabriel Valley, where many of the empty homes are situated.
She stated that these homes should have been converted into affordable housing “long ago,” whilst also asserting that Caltrans need to remove themselves from the housing business after their dreadful mismanagement of public finances.
She concluded her statement by claiming that the $13 million spent on protection for these empty homes could have instead been invested in three separate emergency road repairs on Roue 2 that runs directly through the San Gabriel Valley.
Fox 11 did reach out to Caltrans for immediate comment, but they are yet to receive a reply.