The question California voters have to consider when contemplating Proposition 41 on the June ballot is whether $50,000 is a reasonable cost to get a homeless vet off the streets and into stable, supporting housing.
Taking into account what military servicemen and women risk on the country’s behalf, we think the answer is yes.
Proposition 41, the Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Bond Act of 2014, would repurpose $600 million of unspent bonds in the state’s veterans home loan program to build transitional housing and services for homeless vets.
As so many homeless advocates know, providing a place to sleep doesn’t keep everyone off the streets. For that reason, the program wisely includes services to deal with associated problems such as counseling and care for drug and alcohol addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder.
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This would still leave $500 million for the home loan program, which will be plenty to meet the needs of the California veterans looking to buy a house. Demand has been decreasing over the last decade due to a combination of factors, including the economic downturn and the availability of other home loan programs for veterans.
Even using some of those funds, Proposition 41 carries a cost to Californians – about $50 million a year over 15 years, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office. That $750 million price tag comes out to $50,000 for each of California’s estimated 15,000 homeless veterans.
Sheltering and caring for homeless vets has indirect payback to our communities dealing with homeless encampments and public safety issues. Aside from the good it might do for veterans, it will also be good for us. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do.