Speaking out for affordable homes in California
Residents and staff advocate at the state capitol for more funding to solve homelessness
State Representative Autumn Burke (D-62, Los Angeles) clasped Nancy’s hand as she left the representative’s office, exclaiming, “thank you for your story Nancy, it means a lot.” On April 12, residents and staff of Clifford Beers Housing joined with 175 housing and homelessness advocates from around California to speak with over 100 lawmakers in Sacramento.
Residents shared their stories of how permanent, affordable housing with supportive services has changed their lives, and they requested the representatives’ support. Staff detailed the need for the $2.26 billion Senate budget request and the $1 billion Assembly budget request for housing, and for two Assembly bills that will decrease homelessness (AB2502 and AB2817). If passed, this funding will restore money from cuts made during the recession and will go to proven programs that provide ten thousand new affordable homes, rental assistance for families with children, loans for home ownership, services for residents with special needs, and more.
“Other states are successfully decreasing homelessness,” said CBH staff member Claire Okeke, “while California, with the largest homeless population in the nation, has decreased our investment in affordable homes by 66 per cent since 2008. Our homelessness crisis is solvable, and we need this investment from the state budget surplus to make it happen.”
“I was moved by the number of people that were all here for affordable housing with supportive services, and by being a part of a movement,” said Nancy, a mother and resident of CBH’s Burlington Family Apartments. “This is more than just getting some bills passed. Homelessness is an epidemic, and this is the beginning of the solution. I feel empowered. The assemblymembers were very receptive. I think that last handshake really counted.”
Harriette, a resident of CBH’s NoHo Senior Villas, said, “Because of my mental illness, I was in a shelter for 14 months before I got my permanent supportive apartment. What a difference that makes. I wish this for everybody. And that’s why I’m here (in Sacramento), lobbying for more funding for supportive housing.”
“I will forever be changed by the (mother) who came here to talk to me about being homeless,” said State Senator Holly Mitchell (D-30, Los Angeles). “I won’t forget her story for as long as I live. So I believe you all coming and being brave enough to tell your story is important.”
“$1 billion is less than one per cent of California’s annual budget,” said Assemblymember David Chiu (D-17, San Francisco), sponsor of both Assembly bills. “You guys inspire me because you represent every part of the state, and you know that this is the number one burning issue to make sure that California is more fair and is the golden state that we want to live in for the rest of our lives.”
The supportive housing model provides social services within affordable apartment communities to help formerly homeless residents maintain and thrive in their housing. Supportive housing is the key tool that helps people permanently leave homelessness. The affordable housing lobby day was organized by Housing California, the Residents United Network, and the Corporation for Supportive Housing.
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Check out the videos below by advocates from the 2016 lobby day in Sacramento!