Governor Jerry Brown stopped in San Diego Thursday to sign a bill that would provide veterans with affordable housing.
Assembly Bill 639, authored by Assembly Speaker John Pérez (D-Los Angeles,) would create veterans housing communities. These communities would also offer services, including mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment and job training.
“We’ve all been to war and returned safely, but many of our comrades have not. They brought their war back home with them, and they’re still fighting for their lives,” said Steve Peck, president of U.S. Vets and a Vietnam veteran himself.
According to Peck, of the two million veterans in California, 200,000 are living below the poverty line. Peck said it’s hard to tell how many veterans are homeless, but that number could be as high as 50,000.
“We’re talking about veterans of which there are many, especially in California, who are on the edges, on the margins, and need stability,” said Phil Landis, president of the Veterans Village of San Diego. “The best way to do that is to provide housing that creates a community of veterans.”
In recent years, voters approved housing bonds for veterans. AB 639 would re-purpose $600 million of this money to create apartment communities for veterans. The state would partner with non-profits and other agencies to develop housing projects.
The governor signed the bill at the Veterans Village of San Diego, surrounded by veterans and elected officials.
Californians still need to approve the measure on the June ballot for it to move forward.