Supervisors support one, split to stay neutral on another housing measure on Nov. ballot

By Daniel Borsuk

Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors took a “support” position on Proposition 2, a state bond ballot measure to build housing for homeless individuals with mental illness but, took a “no position” on Proposition 10, another state ballot measure that would expand residential property rent control at Tuesday’s meeting.

Supervisors voted 4-0 in favor of Proposition 2, but voted 3-1 to a remain neutral, with Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond in dissent, on the rent control measure – Proposition 10.  Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg was absent.

Both Proposition 2 and Proposition 10 will appear on the November 6, 2018 general election ballot.

Before the meeting, supervisors were initially prepared to brand an “oppose” position on Proposition 2 that “Authorizes Bonds to Fund Existing Housing Programs for Individuals with Mental Illness Legislative Statute.” But supervisors reversed that recommendation from the board’s Legislation Committee from August 13 to recommend an “oppose” vote on Prop. 2 over concerns the county could lose about $2.8 million in state funds for mental health services.

For a while, Board Chair Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill was concerned passage of Proposition 2 might jeopardize funding for another mental health and housing program for the homeless, the No Place Like Home Program, because a state Legislative Analyst Office report states passage of Proposition 2 would mean money would be borrowed from the 2016 enacted homeless housing program.

During the meeting, Dr. Matthew White, head of the Contra Costa County Behavioral Health Services, said the threat to the state funds, in the event Proposition 2 passes at the polls, will probably have little impact on county mental health services.  He said there is a major need for adequate housing for the homeless needing mental health services that will be integrated into new housing projects.

But some speakers were unconvinced Proposition 2 will not deteriorate county mental health services.

Retired physician Dr. Mark Cohen, who has an adult child with mental illness, urged supervisors to oppose Proposition 2 on grounds that the ballot measure’s passage would divert money away from the psychiatric care services for the severely mentally ill not housed in Proposition 2 funding developments.

County mental health commissioner Douglas Dunn opposes the measure because the county is bound to lose upfront money aimed for mental health services that would be diverted to construct housing for the homeless with mental and substance abuse issues.

In support of Proposition 2, Gloria Bruce, executive director of the East Bay Housing Coalition, said “Proposition 2 is the right way to go. Give high need people access to affordable housing.”

Danville resident Douglas Leach called for supervisors to support Proposition 2 because it would create safe housing for the homeless needing mental health and substance abuse assistance.

Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood said she would support Proposition 2 based on the fact it is “difficult to find housing for the mentally ill,”

“These dollars are needed,” supervisor Candace Andersen of Danville said.  “We won’t see a reduction in programs. It will give us an addition tool.”

On Proposition 10, the Affordable Housing Act, supervisors voted to take “no position” on a 3-1 vote.  Supervisors John Gioia of Richmond cast the dissenting vote.  He supported Proposition 10 mainly because it would eliminate the 1998-enacted Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act that permits landlords to raise rents of residential apartments and houses as much as they want constructed after 1995, but not before 1995.  Costa-Hawkins allows landlords to raise the rent in any building before 1995 to the market value when it becomes vacant.

In other business, supervisors officially adopted the $3.2 billion budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year without any public comments. The 2018-2019 budget is up from the $3 billion budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

In other action, Supervisors recognized September 16-22 as Falls Prevention Awareness Week at their meeting on Tuesday. At the presentation were Meals on Wheels Mt. Diablo Region Chief Executive Officer Elaine Clark and Communications Specialist Maricel Kinsella.

Meals on Wheels Mt. Diablo Region and the Contra Costa County Fall Prevention Coalition will hold presentations on how to prevent senior citizens from falling in their homes, a leading cause of death or injury to persons 65 years old or more.

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