“It is deeply disturbing that in California, the wealthiest state in the nation, we have so many Homeless. This is not an easy problem to tackle. There are powerful societal forces at work. But, with patience and persistence, we can and will make progress. It is a matter of fundamental human dignity that everyone deserves a safe place to sleep and every child deserves a stable home to grow up in.”
- Senator Steve Glazer
Senator Glazer has worked to find solutions to Homelessness since he served as Councilmember and Mayor of Orinda. He’s participated in the “Pre-Dawn Homeless Count”, worked with soup kitchens to provide hot meals, and sought funding for shelters for families and children with no place to sleep.
In the Legislature, Senator Glazer has enthusiastically embraced Governor Newsom’s commitment to deal with Homelessness. He worked to pass a state budget in 2019 that included an unprecedented $1 billion investment in combatting Homelessness. Senator Glazer was especially pleased this budget dramatically increased the state’s commitment to increase mental health services and support for the chronically homeless. The 2019 budget:
- Provided $650 million in homelessness emergency aid to local governments for emergency housing vouchers, rapid rehousing programs, and emergency shelter construction.
- Allocated $120 million to increase mental health supports, including strategies to address the shortage of mental health professionals in the public mental health system.
- Provided $120 million to expand ‘Whole Person Care’ services that provide wrap-around health, behavioral health, and housing services.
- Funded $40 million rapid rehousing and basic needs initiatives for “housing insecure” students at the University of California, California State University and California Community College systems.
- More than doubled the Cal EITC Working Families Tax Credit increasing the number of eligible households form 2 million to 3 million and, in many cases, providing low-income families the direct assistance they need to pay their rent and stay off the streets.
In the present budget, Senator Glazer is supporting Governor Newsom’s proposal to include an additional $1 billion-plus to combat Homelessness. “We need to understand, statewide, that Homelessness is a real emergency,” said Senator Glazer. “. Just as there is no single cause of Homelessness, there is no ‘magic bullet´ or single solution. The Governor has said he wants to use quotes every tool in the toolbox unquote, and I am eager to work with him towards that end”
Looking at the 2020 Legislative session, Senator Glazer announced he will support proposals to:
- Create a $750 million California Access-to-Housing-Services Fund to get individuals off streets and into supportive services quickly. More homeless infrastructure is being built, but the state still has a severe shortage of affordable and supportive housing units. The Fund will be designed to (a) pay rent for individuals facing homelessness; (b) support regions to bring on more dwelling units and (c) to help stabilize board and care facilities/homes. Unlike other state efforts, this money will go directly to service providers.
- Transform Medi-Cal to boost preventative health care and, at the same time, bring down the cost of health care. Chronically unsheltered individuals presently utilize an outsize proportion of state health care spending for the indigent. Providing them with preventive health services will both assist many of the Homeless in coping with chronic health conditions and, in the long run, cut overall state medical costs.
- Create a Community Care Collaborative Pilot (CCCP) at a cost of $24.6 million in 2020-21 for the Department of State Hospitals to implement efforts in three pilot counties to place individuals with mental health needs, specifically those designated Incompetent to Stand Trial, into stable placements in the community instead of state hospital placements.
- Enforce Mental Health Parity to ensure California’s medical providers and health insurance plans provide “parity” in the treatment of mental health conditions on a par with treatment for traditional chronic conditions. In other words, if your health plan provides unlimited doctor visits for a chronic condition like diabetes you must also be given unlimited visits for a mental health condition such as depression or schizophrenia.