Homelessness, senior housing, cellphone usage discussed at ‘Coffee Talks with Christy’

Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, speaks with constituents outside It's a Grind Coffee House in Castaic on Saturday. Ryan Mancini/The Signal

Constituents from across the 38th Assembly District sat together around Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, during her “Coffee Talks with Christy” at It’s a Grind Coffee House in Castaic on Saturday.

Smith, D-Santa Clarita, addressed several issues raised by those who attended, such as homelessness in Santa Clarita. Smith said homelessness has become a statewide problem greatly impacted by the effects of the Great Recession in 2008.

“When I first started running for public office, it was the trailing end of the recession, and what happened during the recession is that building nearly stopped in the state,” she said. “We didn’t keep pace with population growth. So we now find ourselves, in the state of California, short of housing by 3.2 million units.”

Mental health and substance abuse also factor in toward homelessness, Smith said. She said  Gov. Gavin Newsom prioritized to improve the number of financial resources needed for shelters within counties across the state. This included Bridge to Home, which is in the planning to establish a year-round local homeless shelter.

The topic of affordable housing for seniors followed, as Smith was asked how she would help seniors who use most of their Social Security income for rent and housing. She said the state government will work to create a balance between public and private investments in order to help make room for more homes while also respecting private developers fulfilling their jobs. Smith added that it’s an issue of focus by Los Angeles County 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger.

Smith was also asked about a bill that moved out of the Assembly Education Committee that would prohibit students’ use of cell phones on school campuses across the state.

“It was initially just a strict prohibition and we move to a ‘recommend’ position so that local school boards can make that decision,” she said.

The next “Coffee Talks with Christy” will be at Oggi’s Pizza and Brewing Co. from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on May 25. To RSVP, go to a38.asmdc.org/event/20190525-coffee-talks-christy.

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