Padilla pushes for affordable housing bill in San Diego visit
Homelessness is a major crisis plaguing the country right now, and a new bill by California Sen. Alex Padilla seeks to change that.
The senator was in San Diego on Tuesday, touring Saint Teresa of Calcutta Villa, an affordable housing community downtown that could be a model to get people into housing. The 14-story housing complex was the latest effort by Father Joe’s Villages to get unsheltered people into their own homes.
Padilla's bill, dubbed the Housing for All Act of 2022, seeks to get $500 billion in federal funding for affordable housing and to help end veterans' homelessness.
“This bill is a comprehensive plan with a vision to end homelessness and secure affordable housing for all across America. And it's a plan that works from the bottom up,” he said. "We know that every community is different. Every city is different. But we seek to invest and scale up proven, successful state and local programs that meet the different needs of different communities."
While there, Padilla met with Saint Teresa resident Albert Zunigas. A year ago, Zunigas was living on the streets just outside the newly opened building. While living on the street, he spiraled down a dark path that landed him in jail. He said that was the wakeup call he needed.
“Through finding the source of my problem, my addiction, I got help for that. And, with that, I was blessed with this beautiful home here," Zunigas said.
Success stories such as his were part of the reasons for Padilla's visit. His bill aims to scale up successful programs such as Saint Teresa of Calcutta. He was joined by San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and Rep. Scott Peters (D-San Diego), whose district includes the downtown area.
Gloria said homelessness was a problem that needs a comprehensive approach at both the local and federal levels.
“This is the kind of big action that we need from our leaders in Washington, D.C., because, make no mistake, this is not a San Diego issue. This is not a California issue. This is a national issue,” Gloria said.
Of the 407 apartments at Saint Teresa of Calcutta, 270 were reserved for people experiencing homelessness, Gloria said. Those units come with support services to keep people housed.
As proof that affordable housing programs such as this work, Gloria said that, of the 270 units in the building, 90 went to people in city shelters and another 82 came from city-funded programs.
Though the bill has long odds of becoming law, that didn't deter Padilla. He said elements of it were already in President Joe Biden's proposed budget.
“The Housing for All Act seeks $500 billion investment in different housing programs and initiatives over the course of 10 years," he said. "The president's proposed budget calls for $50 billion. So we're actually off to a great start.”
He is also working to get bipartisan support for the bill.