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California Proposition 2: Housing for Individuals with Mental Illness

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Riedel/Released

Proposition 2 deals with funding a housing program for people who have mental health issues. Back in 2004, Californians voted in favor of something called the Mental Health Services Act. It charges a one percent income tax on people who make a million dollars or more, to fund mental health services in counties across the state.

Now lawmakers want to amend that act so that the state can use some of the money specifically for housing for people with mental illnesses who homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless. The proposition won’t cost taxpayers anything.

Supporters of the bill say that this money is desperately needed to create permanent, supportive housing for a vulnerable population. The main supporters of the bill are: the non-profit Mental Health America of California and the California Police Chiefs Association.

The support campaign has raised two million dollars so far. The main funding comes from the Chan Zuckerberg Advocacy committee  - Facebook Mark Zuckerberg’s family’s initiative. The Construction Trades Council of California has also donated money.

The sole opposition to Prop 2 is the Contra Costa County affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Executive Director Gigi Crowder says: she absolutely supports funding for housing, but she doesn’t think that that money should be taken away from already limited funds. She thinks the money could be better spent on direct treatment. And she argues: this proposition just gives money to developers. The opposition campaign hasn’t spent any funds.

To recap: Proposition 2 would amend an existing law to allow some of the money that’s slated for mental health services to be specifically used for housing people with serious mental illnesses.