Valley Public Radio - Live Audio

Prop 41 Would Create 'Supportive' Housing for Homeless Veterans

May 16, 2014

file photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A California ballot measure before voters next month would redirect $600 million of pre-approved funds to build housing for low income and homeless veterans. Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento. 

Forty-eight year-old Matthew Meissner says when one thing goes downhill, everything else follows. He became disabled in 2009, stopped working, moved in with family, then last year, found himself sleeping wherever he could in Sacramento.  

Meissner:  "I sleep usually out by the… camp out by the river. You gotta stay on the move."

Meissner’s a veteran. He served in Desert Storm. 

Meissner: "I’m not the same person I was before I went, obviously. You see things or you done things that humans shouldn’t have to do."

Meissner could get help under Proposition 41 – if passed, a portion of an existing state bond fund to help veterans buy homes would be used instead to create supportive housing for low income veterans. Chas Alamo of the Legislative Analyst’s Office says the current veteran home loan fund is underused.  

Alamo: “As demographics have changed, as the economy has obviously struggled through the recession, fewer veterans are coming forward for those home loans than was anticipated.” 

Alamo says the change would require $50 million from the state’s general fund for the next 15 years, a cost proponents say would be offset by getting people like Matthew Meissner off the streets. 

Alamo: "I don’t want to be out here. I want to be what I call normal again. I want a home for me and my wife, I want people to look at me and not down me, and call me a bum, or this and that." 

The proposition has no known organized opposition.