The humanitarian crisis on our streets continues to present a massive moral and logistical imperative for all of us, especially those of us in government. Over the past few years, the state has committed, in collaboration with the federal government, record amounts of money to local governments to help address the crisis, and that money is being spent in Los Angeles on projects such as $2.7 billion in emergency rent relief and $86.5 million through the Homeless Housing Assistance Prevention program to expand outreach and increase access to services and permanent housing.
Last year, I coauthored a comprehensive plan, known as the CARE Court Program, to assist the process of helping people with mental illness get off the streets and into the treatment services they need. We did some follow-up work on the initial law this year to ensure implementation will include the fairness, familial involvement, and sensitivity that such an undertaking requires. Rollout programs are underway in Los Angeles County and are set to open soon.
The Legislature furthered the CARE Court effort by reforming the 2004 Mental Health Services Act to include substance use disorders and reforming the conservatorship process by updating the definition of gravely disabled. Beyond the ongoing funding within the annual state budget, the Legislature collaborated with the Governor to set a $6.38 billion behavioral health bond measure on the March 2024 primary election ballot. If approved by voters, the bond would expedite support for individuals on our streets struggling with mental illness through things like the development of over 10,000 treatment beds and targeted support for veterans.
We must provide more avenues for the creation of affordable housing, and that’s why, in close cooperation with our local governments, I worked last year to create a housing trust fund for our South Bay city governments, have worked with our State’s Board of Equalization on a bill to reduce taxation disincentives for adaptive reuse of older hotels into homeless housing, and have been leading efforts to reform Article 34 in the State Constitution.