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California governor’s homelessness ballot measure remains too close to call

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(The Center Square) – Over a week after election day, California Governor Gavin Newsom’s Proposition 1 ballot measure to fund homeless housing and mental and substance abuse treatment is still too close to call.

On March 13, with nearly 1.3 million unprocessed ballots, “Yes” votes outnumbered “No” votes by just over 4,000 votes. A day later, with 800,000 unprocessed ballots, the “Yes” lead grew to 24,000. But with 6.7 million votes counted for the measure already, that lead is still too small for observers to make an official pronouncement.

Two days ago, opposition to the measure conceded that it is likely to pass, but with such major swings in the vote tally since then, the measure’s success remains uncertain.

Prop. 1. would issue a $6.4 billion bond for building more mental health and substance abuse treatment facilities — including 11,150 new behavioral health beds and 26,700 outpatient treatment slots — and building housing for the homeless, including $1 billion for homeless veterans. Counties — the largest mental health providers in the state outside the prison and jail system — would also be required to spend 30% of the mental health services funding they receive from the Mental Health Services Act towards housing interventions for individuals with behavioral health conditions.

Opponents, ranging from the ACLU to counties, argue the measure funds involuntary treatment that infringes on personal rights and unfairly redirects limited mental health services funding towards housing.

Lower-than-expected Democratic turnout and higher-than-expected Republican turnout meant Prop 1. faced an unusually conservative California electorate. Even in deep-blue Los Angeles, only 54% of voters, as of the time of publication, support the measure. Los Angeles was the only county in the state south of the lateral shared by the northern boundaries of San Luis Obispo, Kern, and San Bernardino Counties, where a majority supported the measure.

Support for Prop 1 was concentrated along the northwest coast of the state, with the coastal counties stretching from Humboldt to Monterey voting to pass the measure. The only inland counties to support the measure were Yolo, and Sacramento Counties, which supported the measure by a mere 52% and 51% respectively.

Major swings in betting markets on the race to replace the late U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, seem to indicate Prop. 1. is likely to pass. While Republican candidate Steve Garvey, a Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres baseball star, was placed by betters at 90% odds to place first in the primary several days ago, he’s now down to 53%. Garvey briefly took the lead yesterday over Congressman Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, but now is down 0.3%. This downward swing suggests betting markets participants believe future ballot drops will be less conservative than expected earlier.

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