Propositioned - Prop 2: A Bond Measure That Doesn't Borrow Money?

Propositioned Podcast - Prop 2

Welcome back to Propositioned! Hosted by KFI's Kris Ankarlo, this limited series podcast is back to take a look at the 11 different propositions you'll see at the ballot box this November 6! 

Now in its third season, Propositioned is a chance for both sides on each question to make their case to you, the voter. Then you can take that information with you to the voter booth. 

Today's episode deals with Prop 2, a bond measure that authorizes $2 billion in funding to finance housing for those people who are homeless and have mental illness. It ratifies an existing law, the No Place Like Home Program. If passed, the state would be allowed to use up to $140 million every year of county mental health funds to repay the bonds and construct housing. 

Kris Anakarlo examined both sides in the latest episode of Propositioned. Listen below: 

The language of Prop 2 is fairly straightforward. A yes vote on the measure would authorize the state to issue $2 billion in bonds to pay for permanent housing for homeless people who are mentally ill. However, what might not be straightforward, is how we're going to pay for it. Put simply, the bonds would be paid for by diverting a small percentage of revenue from a 'millionaire's tax' approved by voters in 2004. 

The ballot measure is necessary to allow the money to be used instead of for county mental health programs. Advocates for the homeless, like Joel John Roberts, the CEO for People Assisting the Homeless, says California is in desperate need of this type of housing. 

"It's real simple, people struggling with mental health issues that are living on our streets here in the state of California, they desperately need housing," Roberts said. 

Roberts adds that this type of housing also acts as a treatment center for those with mental illness. 

"Housing with case managers that will help people not only get into their housing, but stay in their housing after they're housed," Roberts said. 

But, opponents say, if Prop 2 passes, that would divert money away from already existing mental health programs. Douglas Dunn, with the Contra Costa Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, says that money should be diverted toward treatment, not construction. 

"But at the very least, financially, this acts as a damper for additional funding for the mentally ill," Dunn said. "So they could be left holding the bag for 7% of the funding that they would normally get from the Mental Health Services Act." 

Deborah Anderluh with the Steinberg Institute told KFI, that the measure allows for a $2 billion bond upfront allowing counties across the state to begin construction now and see results as soon as next year. 

"So that instead of picking away at this problem over decades, we're infusing the money up front. If Prop 2 passes, those bonds will be going out this fall," Anderluh said. 

Here's the official language on the ballot for Proposition 2:

Amends Mental Health Services Act to fund No Place Like Home Program, which finances housing for individuals with mental illness. Ratifies existing law establishing the No Place Like Home Program. Fiscal Impact: Allows the state to use up to $140 million per year of county mental health funds to repay up to $2 billion in bonds. These bonds would fund housing for those with mental illness who are homeless.

Here's what a 'YES' vote means: 

A YES vote on this measure means: The state could use existing county mental health funds to pay for housing for those with mental illness who are homeless.

Here's what a 'NO' vote means: 

A NO vote on this measure means: The state’s ability to use existing county mental health funds to pay for housing for those with mental illness who are homeless would depend on future court decisions.

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