California is home to nearly 2 million veterans and the number is expected to rise by more than 200,000 when the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq wind down. About 25% of the nation’s homeless veterans live in California.
Proposition 41, the Veteran Housing and Homeless Prevention Bond Act of 2014, would repurporse $600 million of unspent bonds in the state’s veterans home loan program to build transitional housing such as apartments and provide services for homeless vets.
As the Legislative Analyst’s Office noted of Proposition 41, “at least one-half of the funds would be used to construct housing for extremely low-income veterans. These veterans earn less than 30% of the amount earned by the average family in the county where they live.”
If Proposition 41 is approved, there still would be $500 million for the home loan program—plenty to meet the needs of the California veterans looking to buy. Demand for the program has decreased over the last decade because of a combination of factors, including the economic downturn, low interest rates and the availability of other home loan programs for veterans.
Proposition 41 does come with a cost to Californians—about $50 million a year over 15 years, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office.
That $750 million price tag comes out to $50,000 for each of California’s estimated 15,000 homeless veterans.
However, taxpayers can reasonably expect that giving veterans an affordable place to live will reduce local and state costs for health care, incarceration and crisis services.