fbpx

Senate passes bipartisan homelessness mitigation measure 

Senate passes bipartisan homelessness mitigation measure 

homelessness, Miranda, Senate
The Senate passed a homelessness mitigation bill today with overwhelming support, much to the delight of sponsor Sen. Catherine Miranda, D-Laveen, who has made this her main effort. Five Republicans joined the Senate Democrats in voting “yes” on the bill, which passed 18-11-1 and now moves on to the House. (Photo by Pexels)

The Senate passed a homelessness mitigation bill today with overwhelming support, much to the happiness of sponsor Sen. Catherine Miranda, D-Laveen, who has made this her main effort. 

Five Republicans joined the Senate Democrats in voting yes on the bill which passed 18-11-1 and now moves on to the House, where Miranda intends to amend it and make it even more comprehensive. 

Senate Bill 1585 directs three state departments to implement homelessness solutions and appropriates $145 million dollars for that purpose. Miranda wants the appropriation around $1 billion dollars, but the bill’s appropriation now is still too much for some members to support. 

Among other things, the bill gives rental assistance, affordable housing grants, eviction prevention, job training, and shelter to homeless people with mental illnesses and/or substance abuse. 

Sen. Catherine Miranda (D-Laveen)
Sen. Catherine Miranda (D-Laveen)

Treating mental illnesses and offering rehabilitation for substance abuse are key parts of Miranda’s plan. After treatment, she said the “ultimate goal” is housing. 

Instead of speaking at length on the bill, Miranda used her floor speech for a moment of silence in honor of a homeless person in Phoenix who recently died and whose burned body was found in a dumpster on Tuesday morning. 

The bill originally had an emergency clause which would have required two thirds of the chamber’s votes to pass and is not currently on the bill. However, if the bill picks up 40 or more House votes and gets at least 20 votes in the Senate final read, then it can still get an emergency clause and take effect instantly. 

Miranda is a returning senator who hadn’t been a lawmaker for five years. She’s said before that this work is the reason she decided to run again. “After five years of watching the Legislature kind of go through the same routine keeping the same narrative, I finally just took a ride over here,” Miranda said. “I saw how the homeless quadrupled, and that’s when it hit me that I was part of the problem too, the 8 years that I was here of just driving up Washington or down Jefferson and ignoring the issue, and I just made a promise to myself that I’m not going to ignore it anymore.” 

Senators David Farnsworth, R-Mesa, David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista, Sine Kerr, R-Buckeye, T.J. Shope, R-Coolidge, Janae Shamp, R-Wickenburg, were the Republicans who voted “yes.” 

Kerr said she has Miranda’s commitment to continue working on the bill and noted in her vote explanation that Miranda rejected other amendment suggestions. Miranda said that the main one she pushed back on is regarding enforcement. 

Phoenix is under an injunction from the 9th Circuit which blocks the city from enforcing anti-camping laws aimed at moving homeless encampments, unless there’s alternative shelter in place. Miranda doesn’t want her bill to be thrown out for pushing against the injunction and is therefore avoiding “enforcement” elements. 

The League of Arizona Cities and Towns and the Arizona Housing Coalition support Miranda’s bill. The League represents 91 Arizona municipalities and is a powerful group at the Legislature. 

Sen. Steve Kaiser, R-Phoenix, was initially in support of Miranda’s bill, and allied with her at the beginning of the session, but he voted “no” on her bill this week. She voted “no” on his affordable housing legislation earlier this month – which failed without the support of the League and most Democrats. 

Miranda is known as a “moderate Democrat,” but said she’s having a tougher time this year working across the aisle than she has in the past. “It was probably the hardest work I’ve ever done since I’ve been an elected but it’s very worth it,” she said. 

g