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Prop 41 Would Create 'Supportive' Housing for Homeless Veterans

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Matthew Meissner is homeless and a veteran. Those like Meissner may be able to get assistance under Prop. 41.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A California ballot measure before voters next month would redirect $600 million of pre-approved funds to build housing for low income and homeless veterans.

Forty-eight year-old Matthew Meissner says when one thing goes downhill, everything else follows. He became disabled in 2009, stopped working, moved in with family, then last year, found himself sleeping wherever he could in Sacramento.  

 “I sleep usually out by the, camp out by the river," says Meissner. "You gotta stay on the move."

Meissner’s a veteran. He served in Desert Storm.

“I’m not the same person I was before I went, obviously," says Meissner. "You see things or you done things that humans shouldn’t have to do.”

Meissner could get help under Proposition 41 – if passed, a portion of an existing state bond fund to help veterans buy homes would be used instead to create supportive housing for low income veterans.

Friendship -park

Loaves and Fishes' Friendship Park is a place where Sacramento's homeless population can gather for assistance and additional resources. According to Loaves and Fishes, 12 percent of Sacramento County's homeless are veterans. Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio.

Chas Alamo of the Legislative Analyst’s Office says the current veteran home loan fund is underused.  

“As demographics have changed, as the economy has obviously struggled through the recession, fewer veterans are coming forward for those home loans than was anticipated.”

Alamo says the change would require $50 million from the state’s general fund for the next 15 years, a cost proponents say would be offset by getting people like Matthew Meissner off the streets.

“I don’t want to be out here, I want to be what I call normal again," he says. "I want a home for me and my wife, I want people to look at me and not down me, and call me a bum, or this and that.”

The proposition has no known organized opposition.

What will this proposition change?

Proposition 41 would pay for the construction of housing for homeless veterans by redirecting part of an existing state bond fund to help veterans buy homes. Six hundred million dollars would be used for affordable and transitional housing for low income veterans, who would get supportive social services at the new housing units. Funding would still remain for the home loan program. The redesignation of funds would require $50 million dollars from California's general fund for the next 15 years. 

What do proponents say?

Proponents say the reallocation of some veteran housing funding is justified because the demand for the California veteran home loan program has decreased in recent years. They say the new $50 million cost to the state will be offset by savings from avoided social services costs in getting homeless veterans off the street.

What do opponents say?

There is no known organized opposition to the ballot measure. One man has written an opposition to the proposition here



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