There are a lot of numbers, graphs and charts talking about the financial impact of Prop. 1.
But it's clearer if we simply talk about the human cost.
Voters Demanded Change, and Got It
Voters have always known that our mental health system is inadequate. They already stepped in to create a bold, new policy, the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), by passing Proposition 63 in 2004.
While it did not solve California's problems with mental illness or homelessness, the MHSA has made a huge impact on tens of thousands of lives.*
MHSA programs specialize in finding young people and young adults at risk of slipping into trouble, or deeper trouble, with mental illness. Prevention and early intervention programs can halt the progress of illness and stop the destruction of young people's lives.
MHSA programs also intervene to help adults in crisis, people who live on the streets, people with a history of arrests for issues arising from mental illness.
MHSA Clients Are Stable Now
People helped by MHSA programs now are the ones you mostly don't see.
Their lives are stable.
They understand their mental illness and have help to keep it in check.
They have housing. Many have jobs.
They're not being arrested.
If Prop. 1 cuts MHSA funding by up to 50% at the local level, there's little choice but to end services for many of these people who are stable today.
Prop. 1 Cuts Off People
It's not a program being cut.
It's a person being cut off from services that help – often a lifeline.
Statistics show what happens next: People lose their jobs. They lose their housing. They get in trouble, they get arrested.
This is the human cost of Proposition 1.
It means limiting early intervention for young people.
It means less intensive intervention for adults in crisis, or on the streets.
It means people going through all the worst that can happen, and falling through the cracks again.
Prop. 1 Makes It All Worse
Prop. 1 makes worse all of the true, human problems its supporters claim to be trying to address. It undoes much of the progress made under the MHSA, instead of learning from it and building on it.
No one thinks they mean to do that. They just have a terrible policy that they've been told is some kind of a solution.
The fact is, Proposition 1 hurts people because it's poorly designed.
If Prop. 1 passes, when it leads to these horrible, personal outcomes, voters may become more cynical about the chance to help at all. This is the tragedy of Prop. 1 as a false solution to the real challenges in mental health and homelessness.
Back to that voter's concern: When we talk about cuts, we're talking about people.
We believe in real solutions. We believe Prop. 1 is dangerous because it is not a real solution. That's why we ask you to join us in voting no.
* Just for a sense of scale, one study of 41 counties over two years tracked more than 25,000 people enrolled in MHSA services offering "anything it takes" to reduce their problems related to mental illness.