Like many of you, I have been deeply concerned about the increase in homelessness in our community and across California. That is why I have authored legislation to protect our most vulnerable populations and fought for more services, more affordable housing, and stronger accountability for homelessness funding. I have also advocated for our local governments to act with much greater urgency and to include mental health and substance abuse treatment as part of the solution.
Unfortunately, our military veterans are among those who are disproportionately experiencing homelessness. This is particularly problematic since so many of these individuals bravely sacrificed for our country and are still carrying with them the physical, mental, and emotional scars of that service. While there are many causes for this unacceptable situation, it is due in part to needless red tape and bureaucratic barriers that have prevented our veterans from receiving critical benefits and services.
One of the most frustrating barriers is the inflexible eligibility requirements for certain supportive housing units that have been set aside specifically for veterans. In particular, many of these programs are intended to help extremely low-income veterans and have strict income and eligibility requirements. Unfortunately, veterans receiving service-connected benefits – such as disability benefits – are often disqualified from accessing these units. This has unfortunately resulted in the completely unacceptable situation where veterans across the state are sleeping on the streets while beds specifically set aside for homeless veterans sit empty.
To address this challenge, I introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 1386, which would expand eligibility for homeless veterans and help to move more veterans off the streets and into safe and supportive housing. This will help ensure that beds and units don’t sit empty while those who sacrificed for our nation suffer without adequate shelter. Last week, AB 1386 cleared its final policy committee with unanimous bipartisan support and is now only a few steps away from the Governor’s desk.
To make real progress on the homelessness crisis, we must take action on multiple fronts – including by eliminating needless bureaucracy that is limiting the reach and impact of our programs and services. Taxpayers, community members, and particularly those who sacrificed for our nation deserve nothing less.
As always, please don’t hesitate to be in touch if my team or I can be of any assistance – you can reach our San Fernando Valley office at (818) 346-4521. Wishing you a safe and enjoyable summer!
Yours in Service,
Member of the California State Assembly, 46th District