Senate Democrats propose $2 billion plan for homeless

In an opening to this year’s budget negotiations at the Capitol, Senate Democrats on Monday proposed a $2 billion bond to build homes for homeless people with mental illnesses.

The measure would be funded by Proposition 63, the existing, 1 percent income tax on Californians earning $1 million or more per year to pay for mental health services.

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León said at a news conference in Los Angeles that the money could fund construction of at least 10,000 housing units statewide.

The proposal comes before Gov. Jerry Brown releases his annual budget plan this week. Brown, a relatively moderate Democrat, has clashed with lawmakers of his own party in previous years over funding for social services.

Deborah Hoffman, a spokeswoman for Brown, said in an email that “the administration is supportive of efforts to empower local governments to tackle homelessness, poverty, and mental health issues in our communities and we will take a close look at the proposals in this package.”

In addition to the $2 billion bond, de León, D-Los Angeles, said he will push for $200 million in general fund revenue over four years to pay for rent subsidies for homeless people and will seek to increase in the Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment grants that help low-income seniors and people with disabilities. The measure would not have to go on the ballot, but would part of the budget negotiations with Brown.

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