Newsom-backed Prop 1 could impact mental health, homelessness

Proposition 1 would fund new mental health facilities in California if passed.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is backing Proposition 1 and has helped the campaign supporting the measure raise more than $14.2 million. (Jordan Renville / Daily Trojan)

On March 5, Californians will vote on Proposition 1, a ballot initiative to create new mental health treatment centers and expand housing for people experiencing homelessness.

Backed by Gov. Gavin Newsom and placed on the ballot by the California State Legislature in October, Proposition 1 is the only statewide ballot measure. 

Daily headlines, sent straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our newsletter to keep up with the latest at and around USC.

If the proposition passes, California would be allowed to take a $6.38 billion bond to create new locations dedicated to treating mental health as well as to build new housing for people experiencing homelessness.   

The “Yes on Prop 1” website, whose tagline is “Treatment not Tents,” says it will help solve homelessness in California and support people experiencing homelessness who are also struggling with mental health issues and addiction. 

Californians Against Prop 1 — the organization opposing the measure — argues that the price tag is too much for the state to take on and that the proposition will not solve homelessness, but leave others struggling with mental health behind, by reallocating money that would otherwise be distributed on the county level for community programs.  

“Proposition 1 would take Mental Health Services Act dollars away from community-based mental health programs, voluntary crisis care, and other critical mental health services to fund a small number of housing opportunities for unsheltered Californians,” wrote Eve Garrow, a senior policy analyst at Southern California’s American Civil Liberties Union, in a blog post. 

Proponents of the proposition have raised at least $14.2 million for the campaign, while those in opposition have raised only $1,000. 

Newsom wrote in a statement when the measure made the ballot, “This will prioritize getting people off the streets, out of tents and into treatment.” 

“These reforms, and this new investment in behavioral health housing, will help California make good on promises made decades ago,” Newsom wrote. “We see the signs of our broken system every day — too many Californians suffering from mental health needs or substance use disorders and unable to get support or care they need.”

© University of Southern California/Daily Trojan. All rights reserved.