Senate Passes Padilla Amendments to Improve Evacuation Route Planning and Streamline Veterans’ Access to Housing Vouchers in Appropriations Minibus Package
Package Includes $23 Million in Community Project Funding for California
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) announced that he secured over $23 million for projects across California and passed amendments to improve emergency evacuation route planning and to help streamline veterans’ access to housing vouchers in the Senate’s first bipartisan FY24 appropriations package. This legislative package includes the Senate Agriculture, Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, and Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development appropriations bills.
“I am proud to see the Senate unanimously adopt key amendments I led to strengthen local emergency evacuation route planning and to improve housing assistance for veterans experiencing homelessness. California, and far too many other states, have seen lives lost during flooding and fires because of a lack of adequate evacuation routes. We have to equip communities — particularly smaller, Tribal, and rural communities — with the guidelines and best practices necessary to plan for emergency evacuation and emergency response. And no veteran should experience homelessness because of bureaucratic red tape,” said Senator Padilla. “I also worked to secure $23 million for local projects across the state, which will strengthen our transportation infrastructure, expand access to housing interventions for low-income and unhoused Californians, and reinforce our resiliency against increasingly devastating wildfires. With so much on the line for our veterans, our housing crisis, our public safety, and our disaster preparedness, it is critical that we pass full-year government funding bills. The Senate is moving forward in a bipartisan manner — and it is time for House Republican leadership to do the same.”
Amendments introduced by Senator Padilla that were included in the minibus appropriations package include:
- Emergency Evacuation Routes: This amendment directs the Department of Transportation, in consultation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to develop and publish best practices and guidelines for states, cities, counties, and Tribal governments to utilize when conducting local emergency evacuation route planning, both for evacuating communities and bringing in emergency personnel and supplies.
- Preventing the Underutilization of HUD-VASH Vouchers: This amendment expedites the stalled Congressionally-directed requirement for the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to publish guidelines to allow for temporary, transitional case management by Public Housing Authorities instead of the VA in areas in which Public Housing Authorities have vouchers that are available and allocated but are underutilized due to the lack of VA referrals.
Padilla secured funding for the following local projects across California:
- Half Moon Bay Farmworker Homeownership Expansion: $3,000,000. This funding will support the Half Moon Bay Farmworker Home Ownership Program to provide extremely low-income farmworkers and their families with safe and healthy manufactured homes in the community where they live and work.
- City of Los Angeles’ Inside Safe Program Expansion: $3,000,000. This funding will be used to support the City’s Inside Safe Program to help address street homelessness, including proactively engaging with those living in tents and encampments, and provides immediate permanent supportive housing.
- Yosemite Community College District’s Fire Technology Program Expansion: $2,000,000. This funding will strengthen the Columbia College Fire Technology program by building a Regional Training Facility as well as upgrading their outdated technology and equipment. This would allow for further expansion of program offerings, increased student enrollment, and help meet the need for additional firefighting personnel.
- Pajaro to Prunedale G12 Corridor Project, Segment 6: Pajaro and Salinas Road Project: $1,811,000. This project will make improvements to better protect pedestrians and cyclists on the Pajaro to Prunedale G12 corridor, which serves as a travel alternative to State Route 1 between Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties. This funding supports the construction of Segment 6, the northernmost segment of G12 that acts as the main street of Pajaro and runs adjacent to the future Pajaro/Watsonville Multimodal Train Station project site.
- AC Transit’s East Oakland Maintenance Facility Safety Upgrade: $1,800,000. This funding will support the installation of hydrogen sensing technology and equipment at AC Transit’s Central Maintenance Facility in East Oakland, which is needed to safely perform maintenance on Fuel Cell Electric Buses.
- Metrolink’s Rail Crossing Integration Technology for Safety and Congestion Relief Project: $1,600,000. This funding will support a project to implement Wireless Crossing Nearside Station Stop technology at key Metrolink crossings in Southern California to minimize gate downtime, vehicular and pedestrian traffic congestion, and unsafe driver actions.
- Southern Inyo Fire Protection District Fire Stations: $1,500,000. This funding will support construction of two new fire stations in the communities of Tecopa Hot Springs and Charleston View.
- City of Hayward’s St. Regis Multi-Service Campus Project: $1,500,000. This funding will help to rehabilitate the existing facilities at St. Regis — a former assisted living facility — into a holistic campus of behavioral health treatment and crisis services, medical clinic, and supportive housing.
- City of Monterey Park’s Fire Station 61: $1,500,000. This funding will provide for the design and remodeling of Fire Station 61. The existing fire station is aging and beginning to exceed its useful life.
- City of Palm Springs’ Navigation Center: $1,500,000. This funding will be used to complete the construction of the Palm Springs Navigation Center, which will provide services and resources for those experiencing homelessness.
- City of San Diego’s Homeless Shelter Expansion Project: $1,500,000. This funding will be used for capital improvements on the conversion of an existing office building into a homeless shelter that will serve 45 individuals.
- Chinese Railroad Workers History Center in San Francisco: $1,190,000. This funding will support construction of the Chinese Railroad Workers History Center in San Francisco.
- El Nido Fire Station Rehabilitation in Merced County: $781,000. This funding will support modernization upgrades to the El Nido Fire Station in Merced County.
- LAX Suites, a Supportive Housing Project in LA County: $620,000. This funding will support construction costs of LAX Suites, a permanent supportive housing project in the unincorporated neighborhood of Del Aire Los Angeles County, that will house 47 households.
- Wawona Ambulance Bay in Mariposa County: $375,000. This funding will support the construction of an ambulance bay in Wawona to improve response times in Yosemite National Park and Mariposa County.
- Las Casitas de Lola Domestic Violence Shelter: $53,000. This funding will support needed infrastructure improvements to the Las Casitas de Lola Domestic Violence Shelter in the City of Huron, which provides shelter, food, and resources to women and families fleeing domestic violence.
Additional highlights of the FY 2024 minibus include:
- $25 million to increase pay for homeless service providers to ensure that they can keep up with cost of living increases while providing critical services to those experiencing homelessness.
- $45 million to increase technical assistance to make it easier for state and local entities to access vital federal housing resources.
- $5 million for better coordination between behavioral health care services, including substance use disorder services, and homelessness care. This funding aligns with legislation that Senator Padilla introduced last Congress.
- $100 million in competitive grants to allow for localities to identify and remove barriers to affordable housing production and preservation to increase the supply of housing and lower housing costs.
- $5 million to research the impacts of wildfire smoke on winegrapes.
- $6.3 billion for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), a $615 million increase over FY 2023 levels.
- Full funding for Child Nutrition Programs and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), without new restrictions on eligibility, to ensure low-income families continue to receive healthy, nutritious meals.