Board Weighed Many Factors Before Deciding Support Was Warranted for Measure That Would Create Mental Health Treatment Centers and Housing for the Homeless

At its most recent meeting, the Board of Directors of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce and Civic Association voted to endorse passage of Proposition 1 on the March ballot. Proposition 1 would authorize a $6.8 billion bond to build mental health treatment centers and build housing for the homeless. It also changes how existing Mental Health Services Act monies can be spent.

Currently, the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), passed by voter initiative in 2004, utilizes funds from a "millionaires' tax" to support services for mentally ill and addicted persons. Passage or Prop 1 would redirect more of those funds to the state for mental health programs.

Proposition 1 also requires that counties spend more of their MHSA money on housing and personalized support services like employment assistance and education.

Proposition 1 would give up to $4.4 billion to the state program that builds mental health care and drug or alcohol treatment facilities. The types of places that would be built with bond funds would depend on future decisions by the state. Proposition 1 would require at least $1.5 billion of the $4.4 billion to go to local governments and tribes.      

Proposition 1 would also give $2 billion to the state program that funds local government efforts to turn hotels, motels, and other buildings into housing and construct new housing. The housing added would be for people who are homeless, have mental health or addiction issues. Slightly more than half of the $2 billion would be set aside for veterans.

In deliberating, the Board saw a need to be more aggressive in addressing homelessness in our communities, as well as mental health and addiction issues.

The Chamber Board can see the effects of homelessness on our community members, our businesses and our economy. The fact that Prop 1 repurposes existing funds and adds no new taxes was a heavy factor in the Board's deliberations, as well as the real need in all our communities for mental health and drug and alcohol treatment. We all see a need for housing for the homeless and Prop 1 addresses some of that need.

Voters will consider Proposition 1 on the ballot for March, 2024.