(a) California is home to almost two million veterans, more than any other state in the nation, and with the winding down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, an unprecedented number of California veterans will return to our communities, many in need of housing, employment, mental health and drug treatment, and physical rehabilitation.
(b) Unfortunately, California also leads the nation in the number of homeless veterans, roughly 25 percent of the nation’s homeless veterans live in California, approximately 19,000 veterans. According to the California Research Bureau, Los Angeles is number one in terms of the number of homeless veterans followed by the San Diego region at number three, and the San Francisco Bay Area at number nine.
(c) Moreover, the face of the nation’s homeless veterans’ population is changing as more OIF/OEF veterans find themselves in a downward spiral towards homelessness and, increasingly, female veterans and their children comprise more and more of the homeless veteran demographic.
(d) With their higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, and unemployment, as well as the higher incidence of sexual trauma
experienced by our female veterans, current homeless veterans, all too often, cycle in and out of our jails, hospitals, and treatment programs, disproportionately drawing down services without receiving the proper services to stabilize their lives.
(e) The Legislature must advance a comprehensive, coordinated, and cost-effective approach to respond to the housing needs of our veterans. Such an approach should leverage public and private resources as well as align housing and services.
(f) Five years ago, Californians overwhelmingly affirmed their gratitude to our veterans by approving Proposition 12, a nine hundred million dollars ($900,000,000) general obligation bond intended to help veterans specifically purchase single family homes, farms, and mobilehomes through the CalVet Home Loan Program.
(g) As a result of
the nation’s economic crisis and state’s housing downturn coupled with the changing demographics of our veterans, the Farm and Home Loan Program, as approved by Proposition 12, has been significantly undersubscribed. Five years since its passage, the full nine hundred million dollars ($900,000,000) remains unspent as does a portion of the five hundred million dollars ($500,000,000) from Proposition 32, which was approved by the voters in 2000.
(h) Meanwhile, the need of veterans for multifamily housing that is affordable, supportive, and transitional remains unmet and public and private resources available for these purposes remain underutilized.
(i) California voters should be granted the opportunity to restructure the Proposition 12 veterans’ bond program to better respond to the housing needs as well as the changing demographics of the current veteran population.
(j) The Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Bond Act of 2014 will restructure six hundred million dollars ($600,000,000) of the existing Proposition 12 bond moneys to allow for the construction and rehabilitation of multifamily housing for veterans and prioritize projects that align housing with services. Even with this restructuring of bond moneys, the act still preserves over half a billion dollars for the existing CalVet Farm and Home Loan Program.
(k) The Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Bond Act of 2014 will expand housing and service options for veterans, cost-effectively leverage public dollars, reduce the number of homeless veterans and its attendant public costs, and place California at the forefront of our nation’s efforts to end veterans’ homelessness by 2015.