On Nov. 6, California voters have a chance to deal a blow to the state’s homeless problem with Proposition 2.
While the exact number of homeless people in California is not known, it is estimated that on any given night there are about 130,000, according to the Federal Housing and Urban Development Department.
California’s homeless population accounts for the 25 percent of the nation’s homeless population, and since 2016 California has experienced the largest increase in homelessness in the country.
Proposition 2 will allow the state legislature to issue $2 billion of bond funds to fund housing to homeless people with mental illness and give them better access to mental health services.
It is estimated that 25-33 percent of the homeless population in California have a mental illness, according to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Anyone who has driven by one of the numerous tent cities in Orange County or the Inland Empire can attest Proposition 2 is desperately needed and deserves support on voting day.
There will be no tax increase to fund these programs, it is all made possible in 2004 when voters approved Proposition 63, which taxed California incomes over $1 million a year by one percent.
Every year between $1.5 billion and $2.5 billion are generated from the tax. That money is exclusively used to fund state mental health programs but between 2015-2016, $2.5 billion went unspent.
The unspent money will be distributed to counties through competitive grants and money to pay off the bonds will come directly from Proposition 63.
Housing for the homeless who are mentally ill is a critical step in recovery. These services will not only help out the homeless, but they will also help taxpayers out as well.
Keeping homeless people out of emergency rooms, jails and prison will save the state of California millions of dollars a year and help people get their life back on track.
Proposition 2 allocates funds to alleviate and address the homeless crisis facing California. This proposition literally puts its money where its mouth is and puts people in homes and gets them the services they so desperately need. There are far too many people on the streets and with the proper resources, they can be helped and rehabilitated. Having a place to stay and call home can be the difference between recovery and death.
There have been many proposals to help with the homeless situation we have in California, but nothing has helped these people who need the most help. There have been ideas of homeless housing before and communities balk at the idea of having homeless people living in homes near them. Everyone wants a solution to this problem, yet many people are opposed to giving them the tools to get better and off the streets.
In a 2009 study by Mary Larimer, a clinical psychologist at the University of Washington, found that when given a home, the homeless she observed drank less and also costed the government approximately $2,500 less per person when in a home.
But with a shortage of housing in the state, that has proven to be a huge obstacle to secure supportive housing for the mentally ill.
Giving the homeless programs to help with those illnesses along with housing will go a long way in helping them get off the streets permanently, it is critical that voters vote yes on Proposition 2.