CalChamber Supports Prop. 1 to Finance More Housing to Address Mental Health, Homelessness Crises

SupportThe California Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors voted on Friday to endorse Proposition 1, a key element of Governor Gavin Newsom’s response to the state’s mental health and homelessness crises.

If approved by voters next March, Proposition 1 will authorize $6.38 billion in general obligation bonds to finance, among other things, more treatment beds and supportive housing units for Californians with severe behavioral health challenges and substance use disorders.

In announcing the Board’s decision, CalChamber President and CEO Jennifer Barrera said the measure will help address the mental health and homelessness crisis in the state.

“California employers are on the front lines of our state’s homelessness crisis and many have been challenged with safety issues for both their workers and customers,” she said. “Today, the CalChamber Board voted to support Proposition 1 because it provides an effective and ambitious plan that addresses three interrelated social crises: homelessness, untreated serious mental illness, and drug abuse in our state. Importantly, the measure includes accountability metrics that will ensure funds are spent in the most effective ways possible so that services that are foundational for treatment are successful.”

In addition to support from the business community, Prop. 1 has been endorsed by health care entities and cities.

Prop. 1

Proposition 1 has two major components related to providing mental health care and drug/alcohol treatment to people, and addressing homelessness.

The proposition:

  • Changes the Mental Health Services Act (MHS) that was passed by voters in 2004 to require that counties spend more of their MHSA money on housing and personalized support services like employment assistance and education.
  • Approves a $6.4 billion bond to build (1) more places for mental health care and drug or alcohol treatment and (2) more housing for people with mental health, drug, or alcohol challenges.

The state Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) estimates the cost to repay the bond would be about $310 million annually over a 30-year period. Proposition 1 uses bond funds to give up to $4.4 billion to the state program that builds more places for mental health care and drug or alcohol treatment. The types of places that would be built with bond funds would depend on future decisions by the state.

The proposition also requires that at least $1.5 billion of the $4.4 billion go to local governments and tribes.

Another $2 billion would go to the state program that grants money to local governments to turn hotels, motels, and other buildings into housing and construct new housing. Local governments would get either grants or loans from the state. The housing added by the measure would be for people who are (1) experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless and (2) have mental health, drug, or alcohol challenges.

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

For more information on Proposition 1, click here.