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Calif. Senate Makes Homelessness Its First Priority In 2016

File / Rich Pedroncelli / AP
 

File / Rich Pedroncelli / AP

As their first act of the new year, California Senators are pushing a new state approach to reduce homelessness.

Democratic Senate leader Kevin de León says he wants California to adopt a philosophy for treating homelessness that’s known as “housing first.”

"It makes no sense to provide social services, AA [Alcoholics Anonymous], Narcotics Anonymous, therapeutic services, only for them to go live behind an alley or in a cardboard," De León says. "Only to have someone there entice them to still engage themselves in illicit and destructive behaviors."

The budget proposal would create two billion dollars in revenue bonds to build permanent housing for homeless people with mental illnesses, and subsidize shorter-term rentals as they’re built.

It would also increase state assistance for elderly and disabled people who can’t work.

To fund the bonds, the Senators propose using funds voters approved for mental health services in 2004's Proposition 63.