Republican Neel Kashkari recently spent a week living as a homeless person in Fresno to highlight California’s high poverty rate. The Gubernatorial candidate says more jobs are key to reducing poverty. But as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, jobs may only be part of the equation.
Kashkari says he got off a bus in Fresno with $40 in his pocket and the goal of finding a job. In an editorial for the Washington Post, Kashkari says he walked for miles, stopping in various businesses and looking for work, but he was unsuccessful.
Kasshkari says his experience demonstrates the importance of good jobs in reducing California’s 24 percent poverty rate. He points to North Dakota' economic boom from oil drilling.
"If we do that in California, it’s not just going to be the oil field workers who benefit," he says. "It’s going to be the men and women who feed them. It’s going to be the truck drivers who move parts and equipment back and forth. It’s going to be the landlords and the restaurant owners and the hotel owners.”
Kashkari says his experience gave him a taste of what it's like to be homeless. Sharon Rapport is with the Corporation for Supportive Housing. She says it’s always good when politicians interact with the homeless. But she says more jobs won’t necessarily fix the problem.
"Really if we want to solve homelessness, we have to do something, first of all, about the people who need more than a short fix or job," she says. "They really need a longer term intervention with services that help them maintain housing stability.”
She says about 35 percent of the state's homeless population has been diagnosed with a mental illness. Kashkari says he'd work with stakeholders to help those people, but doesn't have a specific plan to address mental illness right now.