FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 6, 2016
CONTACT: Bill Bird @ 916-651-4029
Huff Pushes for Wisest Use of Proposition 41 Money
Participates in Senate Joint Oversight Hearing for VHHP Bond Act of 2014
SACRAMENTO: Senate Minority Leader Emeritus Bob Huff (R-San Dimas) took part in a special oversight hearing this week at the State Capitol that involved both the Senate Transportation & Housing Committee and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. The hearing focused on the Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention (VHHP) Program created under Proposition 41, which authorized $600 million in bond funding to pay for multifamily housing for veterans.
Senator Huff is the author of SB 689, which will give preference points for the Proposition 41 bond awarding process for projects that are in coordination with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs’ (USDVA) programs and services or if the project keep a mental health professional on staff or contract for their services.
“In 2014, voters passed the Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Bond Act (Proposition 41) which is targeted at providing housing for homeless and low-income veterans,” said Senator Huff. “But to provide additional housing without the promise of mental health services doesn’t begin to address the problems that many veterans in California face. I have introduced SB 689 in an effort to maximize the dollars by linking federal and state services.”
The California Department of Veterans Affairs (CDVA) estimates that there are over 15,000 homeless veterans in California. Of those, the CDVA estimates 55% of homeless veterans are in need of mental health services. While CDVA has mental health programs for veterans, making the homeless population aware of the programs or getting them to participate is difficult.
Veterans can face unique challenges. There are many emotions involved with being at war, separated from loved ones, as well as the stressors that are inherent in multiple and extended deployments. The stress encountered in service abroad can also play a role in mental health issues, including anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance abuse. Since Proposition 41 projects will be securing a good number of California’s homeless veterans by providing them housing, the state can and should provide them the opportunity for mental health services.
“Providing our veterans with the shelter they need is absolutely the right thing to do, but it’s only a temporary solution to a much larger mental health problem,” said Senator Huff. “Without mental health services, we are potentially losing an opportunity to help this very important population and help curb the problem of homelessness. Efforts like SB 689 maximize dollars on the table for services from USDVA, that’s wise for the veteran and wise for the state.”
Senator Huff represents the 29th Senate District covering portions of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino Counties. Follow Senator Huff on Twitter at @bobhuff99.