Beall"s Affordable Housing Bill Approved by Senate Appropriations
SACRAMENTO – Seven bills authored by Senator Jim Beall are heading for full consideration by the Senate after winning approval today from the Appropriations Committee. Among the bills are two that would create more affordable housing and provide courts with the latitude to steer people with mental illnesses into treatment instead of incarceration.
“Middle-income and lower-income families are being priced out of the housing market and forced to endure long commutes to get to their jobs in high-cost-of-living urban centers and Senate Bill 3 gives California the tools to generate reasonably priced homes and rental units,’’ said Beall, who oversees the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.
Senate Bill 3 is a proposed $3 billion bond to kick-start the construction of thousands of affordable homes and rental units by investing in existing state programs with proven track records in generating housing. The programs include CalHome, the Local Housing Trust Fund Matching Grant, Joe Serna Farmworker Housing, Multifamily Housing, and more.
A portion of the money from the housing bond will be dedicated for multi-family housing, veterans, and the homeless. The state money can be used to leverage $11 billion more in federal tax credits and bonds. In all, SB 3 has the capacity to sustain 137,000 jobs and generate $23.5 billion in economic activity.
Senate Bill 8 gives trial courts the discretion to order immediate mental health treatment as an alternative to imprisoning a person who commits a minor offense as a result of mental illness. The bill is budget neutral. Diversion programs have been shown to cut unnecessary costs for court proceedings and incarceration with treatment is appropriate. A similar program in San Diego County reported nearly $4 million in cost savings.
“SB 8 offers courts a humane alternative for people with mental illnesses – treatment instead of jail,’’ Beall said.
Another bill authored by Beall related to the justice system and people with mental illness, SB 142, also won approval Thursday. The bills provide a fiscal incentive for counties that reduce the numbers of people with mental illnesses sent to state prisons. It calls for the state to share those savings, an estimated $32 million, with those counties. The counties would be required to invest the funds into community mental health services.
Four other bills authored by Beall approved by the committee are:
SB 192 – Requires unspent funds from the Mental Health Services Act to be redirected to mental health programs and services with proven records of success in improving the lives of people with mental illnesses.
SB 595 – Allows voters in the nine Bay Area counties to decide whether to increase bridge tolls to pay for new improvements to bridge corridors.
SB 12 -- Increases the college enrollment of foster youth by directing county child welfare agencies to assign a staffer to assist the student through the financial aid application process. The bill authorizes the California Community College system to double existing on-campus-based support programs from the current 10 districts to 20.
SB 233 -- Closes a gap in the coordination of education services for foster children by allowing caregivers access to school records, enabling them to be informed of the child’s academic progress in order to better support the foster child’s day-to-day educational needs.
One bill that did not get out of the committee was Beall’s SB 191. The proposal would have helped youths get the necessary mental health and substance abuse services they need through early identification and a multi-tiered system of supports. It would have paved the way for school districts and county Mental Health Plans create partnerships to provide universal mental health and substance use assessments and services for K-12 students.
“I’m disappointed SB 191 did not get out of the committee,’’ Beall said. “This bill presented an easy and cost-efficient way to provide treatment to children with mental illnesses. I will continue to work on this issue.’’