Associated Press Calls Prop 1’s Victory – Opposition Calls It “An Embarrassing Squeaker”

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Special to the Vanguard

Sacramento, CA – The Associated Press on Wednesday declared that Prop 1 had passed.

The measure includes $6.38 billion for treatment and housing, and was pushed as a top priority for Governor Newsom in his effort to reduce homelessness in the state.

As the New York Times noted, early polls suggested that it was passing by a wide margin, and “most voters and political donors were scarcely aware that opposition existed.”

Still, Governor Newsom was quick to proclaim victory on Wednesday.

“This is the biggest change in decades in how California tackles homelessness, and a victory for doing things radically different,” Governor Newsom said in a statement. “Proposition 1’s passage means we can begin repairing the damage caused by decades of broken promises and political neglect to those suffering from severe mental illness.”

The opposition released a statement on Wednesday noting that far from a “huge” victory for Governor Newsom, “It’s an embarrassing squeaker of a victory that contains a strong warning.”

While Governor Newsom saw it a key step to combat homelessness, the opposition warned, “Prop. 1 does not just ‘reform’ the mental health system, it reduces funding for mental health services by redirecting $1 billion per year. Prop. 1 could be a humanitarian disaster if it is not well managed.”

They believe, “The incredibly narrow approval of Prop. 1 is the voters saying ‘do not let that happen.’”

Prop. 1 was poorly designed they argue, “because it relies on $10 billion in debt and stealing money from existing mental health services.”

They claim, “The governor’s campaign succeeded only by concealing the way this measure is paid for. They barely got away with it. By cutting off services and reducing early intervention programs, Prop. 1 could have the perverse effect of increasing the number of people homeless and in need of services.”

They warn, “If Prop. 1 truly becomes law, it is the task of legislators at both the state and local level to forestall the damage we now face.”

But for many in the leadership, they had to do something.

As the Times pointed out, “California’s Democratic leadership has been under intense pressure to remove the camps, even as soaring housing costs and an influx of fentanyl have exacerbated homelessness in cities.”

Prop 1 was therefore crafted to target the key issues—severe mental illness and addiction.

The Times noted the UCSF study from last summer that “found that about two-thirds of the homeless people interviewed had serious symptoms of mental illness, but only about 18 percent had recently been treated.”

California has an acute shortage of adult psychiatric treatment beds.

But the opposition questioned whether this approach would work.

The opposition argued, “Many battles await us in local governments, as the Prop. 1 knives come out and counties need to plan out their cuts to mental health care.”

Some Prop. 1 supporters, they argue, “promoted the fantasy that cuts won’t be needed, that MHSA programs can just tap different insurance and funding streams to stay alive. Now it’s time that you all show how that’s going to work.”

If not, they say, “we really will live to see the nightmare of dismantling the locally rooted prevention, early intervention and innovative support services that we have today for people with mental illness.”

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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