Bay Area Council Endorses Prop. 1 on March Ballot; Announces Positions on Other Key Local Measures

The Bay Area Council this week announced our endorsement of Proposition 1, the Behavioral Health Services Act on the March 5 primary election ballot, along with positions on a number of other local measures (see below).

Proposition 1 reforms California’s mental health system with a strong and necessary focus on addressing the significant role of mental illness and substance abuse as both a cause and result of the state’s worsening homelessness crisis. The Bay Area Council has long advocated for an approach to homelessness that recognizes the critical importance of combining shelter and other forms of interim and permanent housing with a range of behavioral health and other supportive services.

“The human suffering on our streets and in our public spaces is unacceptable, immoral and only getting worse,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “With Proposition 1 we can finally begin to walk the talk when it comes to addressing the inextricable and undeniable connection between homelessness, mental illness and alcohol and substance abuse. We applaud Gov. Newsom for his leadership in championing Proposition 1 and prioritizing badly needed investments in a behavioral health system that is outdated and lacks the resources needed to help our most vulnerable residents.”

Statewide polling is clear that homelessness is one of California’s top issues, which is not surprising given the state’s 70% unsheltered homeless population is the highest in the country. With support for Proposition 1 near 70%, polling also shows that voters understand the link between homelessness and mental health and substance abuse problems. And a majority of voters agree now is a good time for the $6.4 billion in bonds proposed in Proposition 1 to fund housing for homeless individuals and veterans with mental health and substance abuse disorders.

“We can’t meaningfully address our homelessness problem without addressing the mental health and substance abuse issues that are so closely associated with it,” said Kristina Lawson, Bay Area Council Chair and Managing Partner of Hanson Bridgett. “Proposition 1 moves in the right direction of better linking housing options with the behavioral health services people desperately need to get their lives on solid footing and stay there.”

The Council also took positions on six other local measures appearing on the March 5 ballot, including:

Measure B in Alameda County to make ill-advised last-minute changes to rules for recall elections (OPPOSE).

Measure A in San Francisco to authorize $300 million in bond funding for affordable housing construction (SUPPORT).

Measure B in San Francisco to unwisely prescribe minimum police staffing levels and funding in a way that removes flexibility in personnel decisions opens the door to a massive tax increase. (OPPOSE).

Measure C in San Francisco to create a transfer tax exemption for buildings being converted from commercial to residential (SUPPORT).

Measure E in San Francisco to reduce the amount of time police officers spend doing paperwork and administrative tasks, freeing them to address public safety and crime on the streets (SUPPORT).

Measure F in San Francisco to require substance use screening for recipients of financial support for housing, workforce and other social services (SUPPORT).

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