These are challenging times, but with April bringing us Earth Day, and observances like Easter and Passover and Ramadan, we also have opportunities for reflection and renewal.
On the other side of the world, the war against Ukraine has stolen lives, decimated cities, and wreaked havoc on a democratic nation and its people. It's also had a massive ripple effect on the economy, and while we watch with broken hearts the devastation inflicted by a brutal bully, many families also are grappling with the financial impacts it's had on our own state's economy.
April is always a busy month in Sacramento as bills move through the legislative process. Budget subcommittees are hard at work vetting funding proposals, and policy committees are analyzing and debating hundreds of bills. I wanted to update you on some of my legislative priorities. I'll be sure to update you on more bills later this spring.
Learning about Government in Person
Before the pandemic, school groups were a common sight in the Capitol corridors, but we have not been able to host students in recent years due to health and safety restrictions. So it was especially heartening to welcome students from Christ the Cornerstone Elementary School to the California State Capitol last month.
It was an honor to meet the future leaders of our state as they explored the hallowed halls of our state's Capitol building, and I was glad they could experience it before we start construction on the new Capitol Annex. The new adjacent building will replace the old Annex, which housed a majority of our Senate and Assembly offices.
We All Count Unsheltered Survey
I'd like to thank the more than 1,400 volunteers across San Diego County who participated in the federally-mandated "point-in-time" WeAllCount event. Team Toni coordinated with the Downtown San Diego Partnership staff and volunteers to count and speak with people experiencing homeless in the 39th Senate District.
The data collected in this count is vital for elected officials at the local, state and national level. It helps allocate resources for addressing homelessness to our communities, like the record $12 billion the state invested in last year's budget.
And it provides a compelling glimpse at who is impacted by homelessness. My team spoke to one person living in a tent downtown who said they are a veteran who worked in construction three years ago, but a back injury forced them out of work. Another person shared that they have lived on the street on-and-off since they were two years old. Every person who is unhoused has a different story, and I'd encourage us all to be compassionate as we continue to work on ways to address homelessness and find solutions to help those in need.
New Affordable Housing Opens
Everyone deserves a place to call home, which is why it was so exciting to participate in the grand opening of the Ivy Senior Apartments in Clairemont on March 18. This site includes 52 affordable housing units for formerly homeless seniors, as well as wrap-around services and care for residents. This project is a public-private partnership success story between the state, the City of San Diego, the County of San Diego, PATH San Diego, and St. Paul's PACE San Diego.
At the state level, I am committed to supporting more affordable housing projects like this one through budget resources, tax credits and a dedicated funding stream made possible by my legislation, SB 2, the Building Homes and Jobs Act, which became law in 2017. When I authored this bill, my hope was that it would be used to create opportunities for more affordable housing. Today, it is not only being used to build homes, but it is also providing a more equitable approach to achieving the California dream.
Thank you to the Wakeland Housing and Development Corporation for creating this new housing opportunity, and to all in the community who supported this project.
New Hillcrest Mural
There is some new, eye-catching artwork in the 39th Senate District! The mural on the corner of University and 6th Avenue in Hillcrest transforms the wall along the AT&T building, and it was great to participate in its unveiling last month.
Designed and created by local artist, Jason Gould, this artwork is a visual greeting saying, "Welcome to our neighborhood." The entire project is about San Diegans collaborating on a visual way to beautify our community. Thank you to AT&T and the Hillcrest Business Association for partnering together to make it happen.
This is the quintessential example of how the arts can take what was just a building on a street corner and turn it into something memorable and engaging for the community. Be sure to check it out – alongside our small businesses and restaurants in the neighborhood, it adds to the vibrant diversity that makes Hillcrest so wonderful!