By Kim Mitchell
Far too many of our military vets, who put their lives on the line for our country, find that when they return their lives are again at risk because they can’t afford a safe and stable home. Many are even forced to live on the street.
Is this really how we show our appreciation for all they’ve sacrificed? Many vets also return home and struggle to re-integrate to civilian life. According to the California Department of Veteran Affairs, 55 percent of homeless veterans suffer from mental health issues and 70 percent have substance or alcohol abuse problems.
We have to do a better job of helping veterans focus on reintegrating and recovering, rather than worrying about how to pay their rent or mortgage. They need more affordable housing to be able to improve their health, education and career opportunities. They also need greater access to social services. If you want to be part of the solution and honor our veterans, vote “yes” on Propositions 1 and 2.
Propositions 1 and 2 work together to help solve the housing crisis, homelessness and psychological issues faced by many U.S. military veterans. This is particularly critical in California as 24 percent of the national homeless veteran population calls the state home, more than any other state.
Proposition 1, the Veterans and Affordable Housing Act, is a $4 billion bond that funds affordable and supportive housing for veterans, families and others. Prop 1 allocates $1 billion to the CalVet Home Loan Program, a program that has already helped 423,000 veterans and their families. The measure also dedicates $1.5 billion to the Multifamily Housing Program, $150 million to the Transit-Oriented Development Program and $300 million to the Infill Infrastructure Grant Program to build and preserve affordable housing for low-income individuals and families. It also provides $150 million to the CalHFA Home Purchase Assistance Program.
For veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress or other mental challenges, Proposition 2 provides access to funding for supportive housing (affordable housing connected with mental health and social services) for those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Provided with a stable living environment, many veterans can create stronger relationships with healthcare providers and other service providers — saving lives.
As you can see, these two propositions together make significant strides in assisting our veterans. Besides building affordable homes and providing much-needed services, they also expect to create 137,000 jobs and generate more than $23 billion for California’s economy.
These two propositions don’t solve all of our veteran housing problems, but they’re a beginning. If we don’t start now, we’ll lose more lives and allow our housing crisis to accelerate. Vote “yes” on Propositions 1 and 2.
Kim Mitchell is the president & CEO of Veterans Village of San Diego.