June 3, 2014
Photo credit: kbps.org
California is home to almost two million veterans, more than any other state in the nation. As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down an unprecedented number of California veterans will return to our communities, many in need of housing, employment, mental health and drug treatment, and physical rehabilitation.
Unfortunately, California also leads the nation in the number of homeless veterans; roughly 25 percent or 19,000 veterans. According to the California Research Bureau, Los Angeles is number one in terms of the number of homeless veterans followed by the San Diego region at number three and the San Francisco Bay Area at number nine.
United Way of San Diego County believes the legislature must advance a comprehensive, coordinated, and cost-effective approach to respond to the housing needs of our veterans. Such an approach should leverage public and private resources as well as align housing and services.
In 2013 United Ways across the state advocated in support of Assembly Bill 639, the Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Bond Act (2014), authored by Speaker Emeritus John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles). The bill will expand housing and service options for veterans, leverage public dollars, reduce the number of homeless veterans, and place California at the forefront of our nation’s efforts to end veterans’ homelessness by 2015. AB 639 passed through the legislature unanimously and is on the June 3, 2014 ballot as a legislatively-referred bond act, Proposition 41. Voting yes on Prop 41 will get California closer to the goal of ending veterans’ homelessness by 2015.
However, as a result of the nation’s economic crisis and state’s housing downturn coupled with the changing demographics of our veterans, the Home Loan Program has been significantly undersubscribed. Six years since its passage, the full $900,000,000 remains unspent as does a portion of the $500,000,000 from Proposition 32, which was approved by the voters in 2000.
Meanwhile, the need of veterans for multifamily housing that is affordable, supportive, and transitional remains unmet and public and private resources available for these purposes remain underutilized.
California voters have the opportunity today, June 3, 2014 to restructure the Home Loan Program to better respond to the housing needs as well as the changing demographics of the current veteran population by voting yes on Prop 41.
Prop 41 will make $600 million of existing Prop 12 (Veterans Bond Act of 2008) bond funds available to expand multi-family housing options for low-income veterans. Prop 41 will allow homeless veterans, veterans and veterans’ families who are at risk of homelessness, and veterans struggling with disabilities and unemployment to access safe, decent, affordable places to live.
The Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Bond Act of 2014 will expand housing and service options for veterans, cost-effectively leverage public dollars, reduce the number of homeless veterans, and place California at the forefront of our nation’s efforts to end veterans’ homelessness by 2015.