More good news coming out of the “No Place Like Home” bond program this week: The state of California awarded $302 million for supportive housing projects for people living with severe mental illness who are homeless in Los Angeles, Santa Clara, and San Diego counties!
The money for the badly needed housing is flowing because voters last fall overwhelmingly approved Prop. 2, which ratified the $2 billion No Place Like Home bond plan that the Steinberg Institute helped foster and the Legislature put on the ballot.
“Real progress is being made to get the permanent supportive housing we need to be available for some of our society’s sickest, poorest, and most vulnerable people,” said Steinberg Institute Executive Director Maggie Merritt. “This money will help people stop living in the streets, and will alleviate needless suffering.”
The No Place Like Home measure directs bond funds to building permanent housing with supportive services for people living with severe mental illness who are experiencing homelessness or chronic homelessness or are at-risk of chronic homelessness.
The bonds will not cost taxpayers any new money because they will be repaid from proceeds of the landmark California’s Mental Health Services Act, the 2004 voter-approved 1 percent tax on incomes above $1 million. That law levied a 1 percent tax on incomes of more than a million dollars a year and currently raises $2.4 billion a year for mental health services. It was co-authored by Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, chairman and founder of the Steinberg Institute
The largest of the No Place Like Home grants went to Los Angeles County, which received nearly $230.5 million, followed by San Diego County, which got almost $40.8 million, and Santa Clara County, which is getting just over $30.7 million.
The three counties each have five percent or more of the state’s homeless population and are receiving bulk grants that they can distribute through competitive grants.
Currently, the state is reviewing competitive applications from other counties in a separate process, with awards to be announced in June. A second competitive process is expected in the fall.
For the competition to be decided in June, the state received proposals from 20 different counties that would use more than all of the $178 million available.
Those 45 applications, totaling nearly $194 million, ranged from proposals to acquire and rehabilitate a historic hotel in downtown Sacramento to building 50 new apartments in the city of Riverside.
A total of $1.8 billion will ultimately be distributed by the state as a result of Prop. 2, which got more than 6.5 million votes, more than any other initiative on the November ballot.
“We often take for granted our own support systems that have helped us all remain stable in our own homes,” said Ben Metcalf, director of the state Department of Housing and Community Development, which announced this week’s awards. “This program creates that stability for our neighbors who are living with severe mental illness and experiencing homelessness, people who need extra support to remain stable once they have a home.”