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Primary Election 2024: Proposition 1

Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to change California’s mental health system to help address homelessness. But he needs voters to go along in March. CalMatters reporter Kristen Hwang explains Prop. 1 in a minute.

What would it do?

This two-pronged measure would fund a $6.4 billion bond to drastically expand the state’s mental health and substance abuse treatment infrastructure. A majority of the money, $4.4 billion, would be used to build 10,000 in-patient and residential treatment beds across the state. The remainder would fund permanent supportive housing with half set aside for veterans with mental illness or addiction disorders.

The second part of the measure would require counties to change the way they spend existing mental health dollars by directing them to prioritize housing for people who are chronically homeless.


Why is it on the ballot?

California faces a shortage of nearly 8,000 adult psychiatric beds, according to research from the RAND Corp. The shortage spans the spectrum of care from acute crisis stabilization beds to long-term sub-acute and community residential services beds. At the same time, demand for youth and adult mental health services and emergency department discharge to psychiatric care are at an all-time high.

The state has also been unable to reverse course on a growing homelessness crisis. More than 170,000 Californians are unhoused, the majority of whom live unsheltered on the streets. Mental health and addiction disorders are highly prevalent among homeless Californians — 82% and 65% respectively — however, research shows that the root cause of homelessness in the Golden State is income loss and lack of affordable housing.

This is the only statewide measure on the March 5 primary ballot — and that’s exactly what Gov. Gavin Newsom wanted. He championed the two laws being combined into the measure. And the Legislature went along by clearing the ballot of any competing bond measures — and of three constitutional amendments, which were put off until the Nov. 5 general election.

Who supports the proposition?

$12M raised


Newsom is the chief proponent and architect of Prop. 1. He and his supporters argue the proposition will help combat the state’s deteriorating homelessness crisis, an issue which Newsom campaigned on before he won his first term. They argue that county mental health money is not reaching the people who need it most — chronically homeless individuals with mental health diagnoses or addiction disorders — and that the state needs to update its mental health system to address how population needs have changed in the past 20 years. City mayors and county supervisors were some of the earliest supporters of the proposition.


  • California Teachers Association
  • Service Employees International Union California
  • California Business Roundtable
  • California Chamber of Commerce
  • California Labor Federation
  • California Hospital Association
  • California Medical Association
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness California
  • Steinberg Institute

Media endorsements

Who opposes the proposition?

$1000 raised

Opponents argue that the changes proposed to the county mental health system will sideline current clients and result in service cuts. Specifically, counties would be required to redirect roughly $1 billion per year from community services toward housing. That money comes from a 1% tax on millionaires tax known as the Mental Health Services Act, approved by voters in 2004.

Opponents also take issue with an eleventh-hour amendment to the proposition that allows the money to be spent on involuntary treatment facilities.


Media Endorsements

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