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Cheat Sheet: Prop 41, Affordable Housing for Low-Income Veterans

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A horticulturist with the California Army National Guard's 40th Infantry Division Agribusiness Development Team gathers a soil sample from a field alongside the main road in Afghanistan.
A horticulturist with the California Army National Guard's 40th Infantry Division Agribusiness Development Team gathers a soil sample from a field alongside the main road in Afghanistan. | Photo: The U.S. Army/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Prop 41 will appear on California's June 3, 2014 ballot.

California boasts the largest veteran population in the country, with at least 2 million of the U.S.' 22 million servicemen (and women) calling the state home, according to the Census Bureau. But the Golden State also has the highest number of homeless veterans in the nation -- about 25 percent of homeless vets are on California streets and more than 200,000 live in poverty.

CalVet, the state's veteran housing program, has been in place since 1921 -- more than 420,000 veterans have participated, the League of Women Voters of California reports. While voters approved $900 million in bonds to fund CalVet in 2008, the number of vets participating in the program has dropped over the last decade. Some argue this is because of veterans' changing housing situations and needs.

That's where Proposition 41, the Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Bond Act of 2014, comes into play. Prop 41 would redirect the unused existing bonds approved by voters in 2008, and dedicate them to building and renovating affordable housing for homeless and low-income vets.

Key Points:

  • The bond repayment cost would average about $50 million annually for 15 years -- that's $750 million total, and less than one-tenth of one percent of the state budget, according to the Legislative Analyst's Office.
  • General obligation bonds would be repaid using the California's tax revenue; taxpayers would pay for the new program.
  • To qualify as "low-income," veterans must earn less than 80 percent of the average family income, adjusted for family size and county.
  • "Affordable" housing means rent cannot be higher than 30 percent of the program's income limit.
  • Funding priority would go to housing homeless veterans and veterans who are at risk of becoming homeless.
  • At least one-half of the funds would be used to build housing for extremely low-income veterans (those who earn less than 30 percent of the amount earned by the average family in the county where they live).
  • The state could use as much as $30 million of the bond funds to pay for administering the program.

What Your Vote Means:

  • Voting YES means the state would sell $600 million in general obligation bonds to pay for affordable housing for low-income and homeless veterans and their families.
  • Voting NO means the state would not sell that $600 million in general obligation bonds to pay for affordable housing for low-income and homeless veterans and their families.

Arguments Being Made For:

Prop 41 is a fiscally responsible ballot measure that would help thousands of homeless veterans find a place to call their own -- it doesn't create new taxes or add new debt to the state. The measure would save taxpayer money in healthcare and public safety in the long run, by getting veterans off the streets and into affordable housing.

Arguments Being Made Against:

The state, by selling bonds, would borrow $600 million of $900 million in bonds approved in 2008 for use by the CalVet Home Loans program. This is a matter of whether a diversion of funds is wise. When money is not going directly to the intended beneficiaries -- veterans -- there is an opportunity for "mismanagement and waste." Thus, we can only hope that substantial benefit will trickle down to veterans.

Supporters:

Opposition: (NOTE: There is no organized opposition to Proposition 41.)

For the full text of the proposition, scroll through below:

NOTE: The author of this post -- not the proponents of the measure -- selected the aforementioned key points. They do not represent all of the provisions detailed in Proposition 41; rather, they are intended to offer the salient details.

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