An election ballot drop box outside the Mayfair Community Center in San Jose.
A ballot drop box outside the Mayfair Community Center in East San Jose on March 5, 2024. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

While Proposition 1 is too close to call statewide, Santa Clara County voters are broadly in favor of the measure.

In Santa Clara County, roughly 55.3% of voters have approved it, according to the most recent election results. But statewide, the measure is barely squeaking by with 50.5% approval. Proponents of Prop. 1 amassed $21 million in an effort to get the measure passed in the March primary.

The proposition, put on the ballot by Gov. Gavin Newsom, has two parts. First it asks voters to approve a 30-year, nearly $6.4 billion bond to build more housing and treatment centers for residents battling mental health and addiction, with a focus on housing for military veterans. The other part enables the state to use 30% of funds from the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) —  a 1% income tax on residents making more than $1 million a year — for housing.

If passed, the measure shifts greater oversight to the state on how counties allocate funds for mental health and addiction treatment. The MHSA brings in $2 billion to $3.5 billion per year, according to the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office.

The potential funding shift in the 20-year-old law is raising concerns among local advocates worried about the loss of critical mental health services, such as early intervention and prevention programs.

Deputy County Executive Ky Le said even though Santa Clara County won’t see effects immediately if the measure passes, officials are concerned about funding for early preventative programs — in the face of a looming $250 million budget deficit for fiscal year 2024-25.

He said if Prop. 1 passes, the county expects a roughly 5% decrease in annual funding for mental health services.

“What we’re going to have to do is probably not focus on so much expansion, but trying to work within the rules that the state gives us to maintain,” Le told San José Spotlight.

The bond portion of the measure is poised to construct up to 4,350 homes statewide, with 2,350 set aside for veterans, in addition to building treatment facilities for 6,800 people, according to the measure. An estimated 9,903 people were homeless in Santa Clara County in 2023.

Mark Cloutier, CEO of mental health nonprofit Caminar, said in a perfect world, there would be funding for all mental health needs, but said he supports Prop. 1 with its funding shifts because it could expand services for a critical state population.

“The net of this, as painful as it is, is a trade-off that I think we have to take given the extreme emergency of unhoused people with untreated behavioral health disorders,” he told San José Spotlight.

Paul Simmons, a co-organizer for the campaign against Prop. 1 and co-founder of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance California, said he is concerned the measure will take away counties’ ability to allocate funding for early intervention statewide, and no longer be able to provide grants for innovation programs for those in the behavioral health sector.

“This is kind of treating the mental health world in the same way that cancer would be treated if they didn’t treat it until it hit stage four,” Simmons told San José Spotlight.

The election results will continue to update this week as more ballots are counted.

Santa Clara County Supervisor Otto Lee said the county will continue to provide support for residents battling mental illness and addiction.

“No matter the results of the vote for Proposition 1, the county of Santa Clara will remain unwavering in our commitment to providing important services in mental health, substance abuse and housing for our most vulnerable residents,” he told San José Spotlight.

This story will be updated.

Contact Annalise Freimarck at [email protected] or follow @annalise_ellen on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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