Homelessness Need Not Be Hopelessness
The homelessness problem in Sacramento is getting worse. This is tragic and unacceptable. It is also a drain on our public safety resources and adversely impacts our businesses and neighborhoods.
I have worked throughout my career to address the homelessness problem head on in California and in the Sacramento region. When I was on the city council I took a stand when the city wanted to sue the Loaves and Fishes homeless services provider because they were feeding too many people. I am proud to have led with late Mayor Joe Serna in voting against this approach. I called for establishing smaller Sunday locations throughout the city, opening one in my district.
As Mayor, I will bring real solutions that actually help people in a tangible way. We know that the best way to reduce homelessness is to provide a place for people to live with the resources they need to transition out of homelessness permanently. Many homeless people have serious mental health needs that also must be addressed with supportive services.
Sacramento Needs More Housing and Supportive Services
We need more housing and supportive services to transition people out of homelessness for good. These additional services will require more money. I have a long history of work in this area and a real plan to address homelessness in Sacramento.
As Sacramento’s State Assemblymember, I secured state funding for housing and supportive services for homeless people with mental health needs. First, it was $10 million in 1998 then $55 million in 2001.
Then, understanding that we needed a more permanent and comprehensive approach, I authored the Mental Health Services Act (Proposition 63), to provide “whatever-it-takes” services to help get people off the streets and into healthcare. I secured $400 million for housing the year after Prop. 63 was approved by voters. Prop. 63 now generates about $2 billion annually for mental health services.
The results are clear: housing with supportive services works. Outcomes from Proposition 63’s Full-Service Partnership program, which provides housing and supportive services, show reductions in homelessness, arrests and emergency room visits.
My 2016 Proposal
Proposition 63 state funds can do more to reduce homelessness. That is why I am working with the Senate leader Kevin de Leon on a $2 billion dollar revenue bond to provide permanent supportive housing for the homeless. We announced this policy effort in January. I am hopeful and confident that the bond will become law as part of the state’s 2016-17 budget. When the bond becomes law, I will ensure that Sacramento gets more than its fair share of these needed housing dollars.
Regional Coalition Around Homelessness
The problem of homelessness does not start or stop at the city borders. As Mayor, I will convene a joint meeting with the City Council, Board of Supervisors and other regional leaders to ensure we are united, maximizing resources and our effectiveness on this difficult problem.
Mental health services are largely funded through the County. My campaign for Mayor has the support of a majority of the Board of County Supervisors—Supervisors Phil Serna, Patrick Kennedy, and Don Nottoli. I look forward to working across city and county lines to address a problem which knows no artificial boundaries.
Experience and Knowledge to Get the Job Done
The irony of chronic homelessness is that we know what works to help people reclaim their lives: assertive and intensive outreach, personalized case management, permanent housing and whatever-it-takes supportive services.
We have the right model in our region, Sacramento Steps Forward. By utilizing technology to inventory needs of the population, Sac Steps Forward is connecting many homeless people with housing and the appropriate services. We simply lack the current capacity to successfully address the magnitude of the issue.
We will aggressively build our capacity to improve this vexing social condition. I have the reach and track record to dramatically increase resources for Sacramento. We will expand permanent housing and services for the health of our community and for thousands of forgotten people.