SACRAMENTO — Gov. George Deukmejian and Senate leader David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles) appealed to Californians on Saturday to reach out and help the estimated 100,000 homeless men, women and children throughout the state.
The two officials issued the pleas separately in their regular weekly radio broadcasts and each emphasized the need to create more financially affordable housing for those who must sleep in doorways, under freeways, in armories, at campgrounds and other makeshift shelters.
Deukmejian suggested that as Californians count their blessings in this holiday season they should also keep in mind that "the true test of society's strength lies in our commitment to care for the weak." He added, "Here in California, we must not neglect these people."
'Must Not Turn Our Backs'
Roberti advised that "we must not turn our backs on the homeless, the elderly and the disabled. Young people must be assured that they, too, will have an opportunity to become homeowners and share in the American dream."
But at the same time, Roberti warned that the affordable housing situation in California threatens to become worse.
He noted that during the last three decades, the federal government through the Department of Housing and Urban Development has provided mortgage assistance and subsidies to developers and nonprofit organizations in an effort to encourage the construction of housing for low-income families, seniors and the handicapped.
Based on a study by the Senate Office of Research, Roberti said that federal contracts involving 117,000 low-income housing units are subject to termination during the next 20 years. And, he noted, when the subsidy programs end, many rents likely will be increased to market rate levels that are beyond the reach of tenants.
Federal Subsidy Losses
The researchers said that of the 117,000 low-income units, 68% could lose the federal subsidies in the next six years.
The impact would be felt heaviest in Los Angles County, where about 39,000 rental units could be affected, the report said.
In San Diego County, the study forecast that another 11,000 could be affected, as well as 7,700 in San Francisco, 7,000 in Sacramento County and 6,800 in Alameda County.
In his radio talk, Roberti pushed for legislative passage of an $850-million bond issue that would finance the purchase, construction and rehabilitation of shelters for the homeless as well as construction of rental units for the aged, disabled and farm workers.
Deukmejian noted that the state has a five-year program under way to encourage construction of affordable housing and the rehabilitation of existing homes. Noting that many of the homeless are individuals suffering from mental disorders, the governor reported that $60 million has been allocated to the counties during the last three years to improve mental health services.