Newsom urges supports for $6.4B bond for housing and mental health

Prop. 1 would provide counties $2B to build homes or convert motels into apartments

Newsom Supports $6.4B Bond for Housing and Mental Health
Governor Gavin Newsom (Getty)

A $6.38 billion bond measure on California’s March ballot would provide $2 billion to counties to build homes and turn hotels, motels and other buildings into housing for homeless residents.

Gov. Gavin Newsom landed in Los Angeles this week to trumpet Proposition 1, which would fund housing across the state and open thousands of mental health treatment beds, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.

The governor said the measure would address the state’s homelessness and addiction crises and transform mental health and drug and alcohol treatment programs.

“You’ve got to support an initiative that will create 11,000 new units of housing (and) 27,000 new treatment slots in outpatient opportunities that promotes not just solutions, but promotes spending billions of dollars specifically for veterans,” Newsom told a crowd at Los Angeles General Medical Center in Lincoln Heights.

If passed, Prop. 1 would require counties to invest around a third of their Mental Health Services Act tax dollars — about $1 billion based on last year’s revenue — on housing programs, according to the Daily News.

It would require the state’s 58 counties to spend half  of that money on the chronically homeless or people living in tents.

Proposition 1 would give $2 billion to the state program that gives money to local governments to construct new housing and turn hotels, motels and other buildings into homes, according to a state Legislative Analyst Office analysis. 

Local governments would get either grants or loans from the state to provide homes for homeless residents, those at risk of living on the street, or people with mental illness or substance abuse problems. 

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Just over half of the $2 billion would be set aside for homes for veterans.

Over a 30-year span, the nearly $6.4 billion bond would cost $9.3 billion, including interest, according to the LAO report.

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said anyone who hesitates to vote on Prop. 1 needs to think about how much it costs to incarcerate people.

“If you have to spend a couple of weeks in a tent, would you use drugs? When your mental health deteriorates?” the mayor asked during the press conference. “We can’t separate these problems, and it is not enough to get a bed for a person.

“We can get people off the street,” she said. “We demonstrated that people are willing to come off the street. But you have to address why they were not housed to begin with.”

California is now home to nearly a third of the nation’s homeless residents. The state’s homeless population grew 6 percent last year to more than 181,000 people, the largest estimate of any state.

— Dana Bartholomew

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