Public opinion polls show that homelessness is one of the most serious issues facing many major metro areas in California.
To try and reduce homelessness, voters are being asked to approve bond packages for the City of Los Angeles and Santa Clara County. The measures require the support of at least two-thirds of all voters to pass.
In Los Angeles, the Skid Row area downtown contains one of the largest homeless populations in the nation. The city is asking for a $1.2 billion bond package for supportive housing for the homeless, which would hike property taxes by varying amounts over the next 30 years.
The council's action comes five months after a $1.85 billion plan was approved to provide relief to the city's homeless population. Since then, city leaders have been exploring different ways to pay for the plan.
Officials intend to devote 80% of the bond proceeds to construction of permanent housing that will offer on-site resources for the homeless, such as substance abuse counseling. The bond money can only be used to build housing, not to provide supportive services.
If approved, the bond amount would be the largest amount voters have ever authorized the city to issue. The biggest bond package previously approved was $600 million to pay for citywide security improvements.
Leaders in Santa Clara County (San Jose) unanimously voted to place an affordable housing bond measure on the November ballot. The bond will be paid for by assessing property owners $12.66 per $100,000 of property value and cost $1.9 billion, including debt service.
The text of the measure says it will help provide local housing for "vulnerable populations including veterans, seniors, the disabled, low-income individuals or families, foster youth, victims of abuse, the homeless, and individuals suffering from mental health and substance abuse illness."
If approved by voters, the majority of the funds ($750 million) would go toward those considered to be in the "extremely low income" category, meaning the homeless or people on the verge of being homeless.