2: Mental Health Money for Housing

What it would do:

Give the state permission to borrow $2 billion to fund supportive housing (affordable housing with on-site social and medical services) for those suffering with mental illness. That debt would be repaid with money previously set aside for county-run mental health services.

What it would cost the government:

Not to over-complicate this, but it kind of depends on what you mean by “cost.” If Prop. 2 passes, the state will divert roughly $120 million per year away from designated mental health treatment funds to pay off the supportive housing bond. In other words, the state would be spending this money no matter what. Plus, a lawsuit has been holding up the state’s plan to fund supportive housing with county mental health dollars for over a year. If and when the court rules, it could side with the state, meaning this fiscal switcheroo was going to happen anyway.

Why it is on the ballot:

In 2004, voters approved Proposition 63, which hiked the income tax on millionaires by 1 percent to fund the expansion of county-run mental health services and related programs. Twelve years later, state lawmakers passed a bill to borrow $2 billion to fund permanent supportive housing and to pay for it with some of the millionaire’s tax money. But a Sacramento lawyer sued, arguing that voters didn’t have the right to issue those bonds without voter approval and that, anyway, the Prop. 63 dollars are meant for bread-and-butter mental health services, not housing construction. Counties are now sitting on millions of dollars reserved for the homeless and are unsure how to spend it. Rather than wait out the court battle, state lawmakers are taking the question to voters.

Story Credit and Breakdown of Propositions: CalMatters.Org