Mental Health Funds Will Be Used for Housing
The Department of Mental Health and the California Housing Finance Agency on Thursday will announce plans to allocate as much as $115 million annually for housing-related programs for homeless people with mental illnesses, the Sacramento Bee reports. The funds will come from Proposition 63, a 2004 ballot initiative that provides funds for mental health care.
Of the $115 million, $75 million will go toward building 10,000 new housing units for homeless people with mental illnesses, and the remaining $40 million will be dedicated to subsidies for rental units.
Sen. Darrel Steinberg (D-Sacramento), who authored Proposition 63, said the funds would be available for the next 20 years. He said existing federal funding and funds for housing approved under Proposition 1C in November 2006 could result in as much as $6 billion to address homelessness.
H.D. Palmer, spokesperson for the Department of Finance, said that Proposition 63 revenue is exceeding expectations, with about $1.6 billion collected in fiscal year 2006-2007 and $1.8 billion expected in FY 2007-2008.
Despite the increase in Proposition 63 funds, some mental health advocates are criticizing a proposal by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) to eliminate funding for a state program that helps homeless people with mental illnesses transition into housing and receive medical and psychiatric treatment.
John Buck -- executive director of Turning Point in Sacramento, a program that provides services under the state program -- said the program is cost effective, noting that it reduces the number of days homeless people with mental illnesses spend in hospitals or jails.
Palmer said similar services are available under Proposition 63 (Lin, Sacramento Bee, 1/25).