Authorizes the state to issue $2 billion in revenue bonds for the construction of permanent supportive housing for people living with severe mental illness who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless.
What the Measure Would Do
California Proposition 2 would ratify the provisions of an existing law, the No Place Like Home Act of 2016, and would issue $2 billion in bonds to finance permanent supportive housing. In response to a lawsuit over the 2016 statute, this measure would confirm that California voters believe affordable housing is key to stabilization and recovery from mental illness. This measure would direct some funding from the Mental Health Services Fund to be spent on creating housing for individuals living with severe mental illness who are homeless or at risk of chronic homelessness.
If passed, Prop. 2 could be amended by a two-thirds vote of the state legislature as long as the amendments further the intent of this measure.
In 2004, the voters approved Prop. 63, the Mental Health Services Act, which created a 1 percent tax on incomes over $1 million in order to fund county mental health programs.
In 2016, the legislature passed the No Place Like Home Act, which, among other things, dedicated $2 billion from Prop. 63 toward the acquisition, design, construction, rehabilitation and preservation of permanent supportive housing for people suffering from mental illness.
Overwhelming evidence shows that stable permanent housing is a necessary foundation before anyone can resolve health issues, pursue personal goals or improve their quality of life.1 Permanent supportive housing is highly effective at targeting the most vulnerable populations, including those suffering from mental illness. It includes wraparound supportive services that promote residents’ recovery and maximize their independence.
While the No Place Like Home Act of 2016 successfully passed the state legislature two years ago, a lawsuit has held up the state’s ability to issue these bonds or to direct Prop. 63 dollars toward the creation of housing. The lawsuit is being funded by two mental health advocates who argue that the voters intended for Prop. 63 funding to go to the treatment of people with severe mental illness, not to housing. They have also expressed concerns that this housing might serve people who do not suffer from mental illness.
The lawsuit is scheduled to be heard this year (it is unlikely to be resolved before the election), but in the meantime, the state legislature decided to put Prop. 2 on the November ballot to confirm the voters’ agreement that the creation of housing for people with severe mental illness who are also homeless is in line with the intent of the Mental Health Services Act.
Apart from the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, there appears to be little opposition to this measure. The original legislative author of Prop. 63 supports Prop. 2.
This measure requires a simple majority (50 percent plus one vote) to pass.
- Prop. 2 would support the creation of supportive housing, which has been proven to help keep people with mental illness stably housed. The permanent supportive housing model includes both housing and services to residents.
- Prop. 2 would help address the state’s homelessness challenges. More than 130,000 people are estimated to be experiencing homelessness in California, and many of them, especially those people who are considered to be chronically homeless, struggle with mental illness.
- The essence of Prop. 2 has already been passed by a majority of our elected state representatives.
- SPUR has not identified any points that we believe to be true cons of this measure.
SPUR believes that part of the effective long-term treatment of people with mental illness is keeping them stably housed. By creating more permanent supportive housing, Prop. 2 would directly help the people originally intended to be served by the Mental Health Services Act. It would also aid in current efforts to address the statewide homelessness crisis.
1 Stefan G. Kertesz, Travis P. Bagget, James J. O’Connell, David S. Buck and Margot B. Kushel, “Per-manent Supportive Housing for Homeless People – Reframing the Debate,” New England Journal of Medicine, December 1, 2016.