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Julie Spezia: Prop. 1C: Emergency shelter, affordable housing and strict accountability

Among the 13 measures on the November 7 state ballot, Proposition 1C stands
out as an opportunity to cast a vote for hope, and against despair, by
bringing important improvements to thousands of lives and improving the
overall quality of life in our communities.

More than 350,000 Californians are homeless every night, and at least 95,000
children are homeless at some point each year. Last year, more than 5,100
women and children were turned away from domestic-violence shelters that
were filled to capacity. Each year, more than 4,000 foster youth turn 18 and
are left to fend for themselves, often without education or life skills.
Tragically, two-thirds of them are at immediate risk of homelessness.

Proposition 1C, the housing and emergency shelter trust-fund act of 2006,
addresses each of these problems. It will build emergency shelters for
homeless families with children and for battered women. It will provide
stable homes for former foster youth, with on-site services such as
vocational training and teaching skills for independent living. And it will
provide assistance to thousands of low-income seniors, disabled veterans and
others in need of stable affordable housing.

All of this will be accomplished with strict oversight and accountability
provisions and without requiring a tax increase. Proposition 1C includes
independent audits and overhead expenses that are limited to 5 percent.

Proposition 1C will foster public-private partnerships by providing
low-interest loans to developers in exchange for agreements to charge
affordable rents for at least 55 years. In most of the programs within 1C,
every dollar issued in grants and loans is expected to leverage an
additional $3 in investment funds.

Proposition 1C will provide funding for construction of homes and shelters
that will last for generations and house thousands of Californians.
In addition to helping our most vulnerable people find shelter, Proposition
1C will help working families buy their first homes and stimulate
California’s economy by helping employers recruit and retain qualified
workers. It is estimated to create almost 90,000 jobs.

While the high cost of housing makes it difficult for businesses to attract
top employees, it is toughest on those who are in desperate situations:
homeless families with children, women escaping violence, and seniors and
others on fixed or limited incomes. When seniors have to choose between
prescription medications and paying their rent or mortgage, something is
terribly wrong. Proposition 1C won’t solve the problems of homelessness and
domestic violence overnight, but it will provide safe and affordable housing
to thousands of Californians for years to come.

Every new shelter space means one more battered woman and her children can
escape daily violence. Every affordable rental home means one more senior
couple can afford both food and their prescription medications. Every new
affordable home built means a family can move toward self-sufficiency.

For California’s most vulnerable people, Proposition 1C offers hope. It’s a
big step toward a California where no one has to sleep in the streets or
choose among paying for rent, food and medicine. Please vote Yes on 1C. By
helping those in need, it will help all of us.

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