Caltrans contractors clear out garbage left behind at a homeless camp under the Highway 101-280 interchange after it was cleared by the California Highway Patrol, Monday morning, Feb. 5, 2017, in San Jose, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

(CALMATTERS) – The Newsom administration paved the way for more homeless encampments to be cleared from state property on Monday, when the California Department of Transportation revised its policy to allow local governments to address moderate- and lower-priority encampments, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

Previously, Caltrans had only allowed local governments to clear high-priority encampments, citing pandemic guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that said doing so could help limit the spread of COVID-19. The change comes about a week after Newsom called large encampments “unacceptable” — a remarkable shift in tone for a governor who had previously focused on the positive results of Project Homekey, his multibillion-dollar effort to house homeless Californians in hotels.

While the revised Caltrans policy only allows encampments to be swept if there is a shelter bed available for each homeless person, that may not always be true in practice. Several former residents of a Berkeley homeless encampment Newsom and Caltrans officials cleared out last week said they were never offered alternative housing and are now searching for a new place to live.