California spent $13M in taxpayer money to guard empty homes amid homeless crisis: report

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LOS ANGELES—The California Department of Transportation paid more than $13 million to have security at 120 vacant homes, Fox 11 reported exclusively.

The report said Caltrans paid $9 million to the state’s highway patrol from November to April and another $4 million to a private security firm for five months. Caltrans told the station in a statement that the homes were purchased 60 years ago when the state wanted to connect the 710 freeway to the 210 in Pasadena.

“Now that the project is no longer moving forward, our goal is to sell these homes and provide current and former tenants, as well as those who qualify for the Affordable Sales Program, a path to first-time homeownership,” the statement read.

The statement said “regulatory changes” were needed to “expedite the sale” of these properties.

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Caltrans said it is in the process of securing the homes and the security costs have been reduced since the peaks in March and December.

An estimated 161,000 people are experiencing homelessness in California, more than in any other. Advocates say they can’t house people quickly enough with a shortage of housing units and high rents.

Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., whose district includes some of the homes in the San Gabriel Valley, said the homes should have been converted into affordable houses a while ago. She said Caltrans should get out of the housing business.

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“Thirteen-million dollars would have roughly been the same amount that could go to three emergency road repair projects on Route 2 in the San Gabriel Valley. So just think what that money could have gone to,” she said.

Caltrans did not immediately respond to an after-hours email from Fox News.

The Associated Press contributed to this report