Vote for Proposition 41 to support local veterans

It’s impossible to say how many homeless veterans — or veterans on the verge of homelessness — are in San Luis Obispo County on any given day.

When the countywide homeless enumeration was conducted in 2013, 240 chronically homeless veterans were counted. When the San Luis Obispo County Department of Veterans Services conducted a Stand Down a couple of weeks ago — an event that offered medical and dental care, counseling, referrals to social service providers and other help to homeless and at-risk veterans — 136 veterans and 60 dependents were there.

And when Dana Cummings, the county’s veterans services officer, scoured creeks and other San Luis Obispo locations looking for homeless vets to invite to the Stand Down, he found 15 within a matter of hours.

Whatever the count, it’s too high, which is why The Tribune Editorial Board joins many other newspapers across the state in strongly supporting the passage of Proposition 41 on Tuesday’s ballot.

Proposition 41 would allow a portion of the more than $1 billion in veterans housing bonds already approved by voters to be spent on apartments and other multi-family housing for veterans. The money also could be directed toward transitional housing, where counseling, job training and other services could be provided by nonprofit agencies.

Currently, the bond money may only be used for single-family homes, mobile homes and farms. That means the veterans who can’t afford to buy a home are locked out.

If Proposition 41 passes, $600 million in bond money could be redirected toward building and renovating apartments and transitional housing. As we see it, that will simply be correcting an oversight that occurred when the bond measures were initially approved.

At least half of the $600 million would be designated for extremely low-income veterans, defined as earning $14,000 per year or less for a single person.

As Cummings points out, this includes many men and women who experienced a trauma during their military service that makes readjustment difficult.

“These men and women deserve every opportunity we can give them to get them back on track,” he said.

We could not agree more.

Voting yes on Proposition 41 is an opportunity to show our appreciation to local veterans; to boost our economy by providing financing for housing projects; and to increase the stock of affordable rentals. The Tribune strongly urges readers to support Proposition 41.

Other Tribune endorsements

District Attorney: Tim Covello A 21-year veteran of the District Attorney’s Office, Covello is a highly skilled prosecutor and, as assistant district attorney, he has experience in budgeting, supervision and all other facets of administration. County Clerk-Recorder: Tommy Gong

All three candidates are strong, but we believe that Gong, the assistant clerk-recorder, is the most experienced and best prepared to take over for Julie Rodewald.

2nd District Supervisor:Bruce Gibson

Gibson, a two-term incumbent, is smart, hard-working and he goes to bat for his constituents.

4th District Supervisor: Caren Ray

Ray, appointed by the governor to replace Paul Teixeira, has been a quick study and she’s shown herself to be an independent and analytical thinker who examines issues from all sides.

Morro Bay Mayor: Jamie Irons

Jamie Irons is committed to moving the city of Morro Bay forward on many fronts: finding the best location for a new sewer plant; invigorating the waterfront area; and finding reliable sources of additional water.

Morro Bay City Council: John Headding and Matthew W. Makowetski

Both candidates would bring energy, vision and a new perspective to the Morro Bay City Council, in addition to knowledge of the local area. Makowetski, a teacher and fourth-generation Morro Bay resident, has served on the Public Works Advisory Board for six years. Headding’s experience in running businesses — both small and large — and his concern for the city’s fiscal future are exactly what Morro Bay needs.