Californians split on ballot measure to tackle homelessness crisis

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California voters were split in early returns over a statewide ballot measure touted by Gov. Gavin Newsom as a necessary step to tackle the state’s ongoing homelessness crisis.

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Proposition 1 would be the first major update to the state’s mental health system in 20 years. The measure needs a simple majority vote to pass. It was too early to call Tuesday night, and it could take days before the final results are tallied.

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Newsom spent significant time and money campaigning on the measure’s behalf, raising more than $13 million to promote it with the support of law enforcement, first responders, hospitals and mayors of major cities. Opponents raised just $1,000. He did not make any statements Tuesday as votes were counted.

“The status quo is not acceptable,” Newsom said Monday at a final campaign stop.

The Democratic governor says the proposition is needed to address the state’s homelessness crisis by boosting investments in housing and substance use programs, but social providers worry it would threaten programs that are keeping people from becoming homeless in the first place.

Republican Darlene Farnum, a retired salesperson from the Southern California suburban city of Fountain Valley, said Tuesday she voted for the proposition even though it was backed by Newsom, someone she said she disagrees with on just about everything else.

“We need to do something besides letting people die and be homeless,” she said.

Brian Frey, a programmer who lives in Sacramento, also voted for the proposition and said the issue is personal to him.

“My brother is actually homeless. He’s suffering from some mental health issues right now,” Frey said. “I think it’d be good to provide funding for treatment centers.”

The measure would restrict how counties use money from a voter-approved tax enacted in 2004 on millionaires that currently is earmarked for mental health services under broad guidelines. Revenue from the tax, now between $2 billion and $3 billion a year, provides about one-third of the state’s total mental health budget.

Counties would be required to spend about two-thirds of those funds on housing and programs for homeless people with serious mental illnesses or substance abuse problems.

Newsom wants to give the state more control over how that money is spent, but critics say it would apply one formula to all counties regardless of the size of the local homeless population and could pit programs for children against those for homeless people.

Proposition 1 also would authorize the state to borrow $6.38 billion to build 4,350 housing units, half of which would be reserved for veterans, and add 6,800 mental health and addiction treatment beds.

In an effort to ensure accurate, comprehensive tallies, counting ballots in California has become a weekslong drama that, in close contests, can transform Election Day into an election month. Mail ballots postmarked by Tuesday can arrive within seven days and are still valid. The heavy reliance on mail ballots — every voter receives one — also results in an extended tally, since each must be opened, validated and processed.

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Comments

  1. Really??? says

    Really????

    The Dems have spent over $20 Billion on this issue and cannot solve the issue.

    Anyone that would then say let’s bankrupt the rest of the budget for failure are themselves failures.

  2. Really???? is so SPOT ON!

    These individuals who were quoted in this article supporting PROP 1 needs to really studied the issue at hand; who is initially responsible of the largest vagrant problem?? Your stupidity of what your government, city, state, federal how/has created all this problem!!!!

    Study……

  3. JLSeagull says

    According to the state county map the only counties supporting Prop 1 are on the coast. All other counties are s0lidily opposed.

  4. As others here seem to be saying, if it’s good policy then take some of the money you’re throwing in the garbage and use it for housing. The state doesn’t need more debt or taxpayer money.

  5. Leo of Sacramento says

    11,150 spaces. That is 4350 housing. That’s 6800 beds for mental health Beds.
    All for 6.4 BILLION dollars. I’m too tired, YOU do the math. 11, 150 spaces, for 180,000 homeless in our State, and growing.

    Mental people don’t worry about rent.
    Dope addicts don’t stress about PG&E bills.

    Now what? 4350 housing units, wasted. No one is figuring in or factoring in, the 24/7 costs associated with keeping these, units, viable?

    San Fran, San Diego, Los Angeles…………those area’s run California. Everyone else, rides along.
    You want a difference? STOP throwing money at this issue/problem.
    START making a difference.
    Stop handing out free cash;
    Stop handing out free needles;
    Stop allowing drug users ‘get out of jail free cards’;
    Stop, coddling the homeless at the expense of the public.

    BTW? That BOND hits your property tax. Congrats, you made ‘affordable housing’, less affordable.

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