Toni Atkins – State Senator

What is the state’s role in addressing homelessness?

To find out, we asked California State Senator Toni Atkins.

Although funding for wrap around services need to be well coordinated, the bigger lack is funding for the construction of housing for homeless people.  This has led her to focus on this part of the issue.

Senator Atkins says that there is new energy in Sacramento around housing.  She is currently working on SB2 which would create fees on transactions at the county and generate $250 million per year for the state to build housing.  Other elected officials are pushing for regulation that allows more housing to be built.

The state sets housing policy, such as the density bonus.  The state also requires a Regional Housing Needs Assessment that is designed to force cities to build housing at all income levels, although she points out that there are problems with this program.

Proposition 41 will provide $75 million dollars this year for housing for veterans.  Some cap and trade dollars also go to building low income housing. And, like the federal government, the state has a tax credit for low income development.

Part of Proposition 63, the millionaires tax, must be spent on low income housing through the No Place Like Home program.

Rapid Re-Housing grants go through the county’s mental health and social services programs.

Interestingly, Senator Atkins was on the San Diego City Council from 2000-2008, with a brief period as Interim Mayor.  During this time, she ushered the inclusionary housing ordinance through city council requiring developers to include low income units.  To get the votes on the council that she needed, she had to include an “in lieu” fee that developers could pay instead of including the low income units.