BY THE CHRONICLE EDITORIAL BOARD
Darrell Steinberg, long one of the state’s leaders in mental-health policy, had always envisioned that housing would be key to the strategy of stabilizing people with severe mental illness. California voters in 2004 approved Steinberg’s Proposition 63, a surtax on income over $1 million to expand mental-health programs — but the measure did not explicitly mention housing.
Prop. 2, on the Nov. 6 ballot, would close that gap. It would authorize $2 billion in bonds from the Mental Health Services Act (as Prop. 63 is known) to build supportive housing for people with severe mental illness who are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The bond repayment would amount to about $130 million a year out of a fund that is now bringing in about $2 billion annually.
“This is a catalyst to do a lot more in the housing area for the homeless population,” said Steinberg, who was in the state Assembly when he crafted Prop. 63. He went on to become president pro tem of the state Senate and is now the mayor of Sacramento.
Steinberg explained that this bond would be just “part of a layer” of funding sources for the housing projects. Private funding, tax credits and other state and federal support would combine for a far greater share of the developments’ cost.