I believe that your zip code, age, race, gender or sexual identity shouldn't determine your destiny. Let's rewrite the rules so every Californian receives the support they need to stay safe, healthy, and thrive.
Here is where I stand on the issues.
As a social worker, I have seen the impacts that mental health has on homeless-related issues and how crucial it is to have mental health advocates involved in this process. When I worked as an Emergency Medical Technician, I saw firsthand the gaps in our mental health system toward vulnerable populations – often transporting unhoused and elderly patients – who were mistreated and released back out on the street without any resources to move forward. And when I served as a Field Representative for Councilwoman Nury Martinez, I went above and beyond to visit every homeless encampment, connected with everybody living in RVs, and got to know them better. While doing this, I came across so many women who were victims of domestic violence and directed them toward available resources.
As Senator, I will work to increase mental health services and ensure we meet the needs of communities that are often underserved and overlooked to add more beds to these demographics and continue to push for creative housing. I am looking to modernize the outdated Lanterman-Petris-Short Act from the late sixties. This Act continues to play a big role in our continued homeless crisis. The current law allows human beings to die on the streets because we cannot legally do anything about it. Too often, we see individuals running in front of cars, suffering from psychotic episodes, and rolling around in their own feces because this Act states it is their human right to be in that state. I believe it is a HUMAN RIGHT to obtain help when one cannot make that decision. I want to increase the access and affordability of mental health services and provide more effective treatment, housing, and services for the unhoused. Individuals with serious mental illnesses receive inadequate care. I support expanding reform that sends mental health professionals to respond to specific emergency calls. I will advocate for increasing access to mental health resources in schools.
The San Fernando Valley is no stranger to natural disasters. We have been directly impacted by wildfires, drought, car-generated air pollution, and gas leaks in recent years. Residents in the San Fernando Valley face high rates of asthma caused by poor air quality, are left with inequitable access to park space, and are fighting to shut down a local airport, the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility, and the Valley Generating Plant.
Our district has three airports within 10-12 miles of each other that are polluting our air. Several planes have fallen in our residential areas near the Whiteman airport. Special interests do not want to shut down this airport, while affluent neighborhoods like Santa Monica deem their nearest airport unsafe for their constituents. We have also seen the inequity between affluent neighborhoods and their access to parks that are in pristine condition, while parks in the East Valley are not equitably maintained. Many families who rely on public transportation face dirt paths, a lack of trees, and no bus shelters, leaving us with the need for better infrastructure. We need a leader who will advocate for residents and families who face inadequate public transportation infrastructure, create open-space opportunities for children, and fight for access to green rideshare programs in our neighborhoods as other communities move toward all-electric vehicles. As we move toward a cleaner economy, we will also create sustainable jobs and invest in our future.
As your next state senator, I will work with our county and local elected officials to break down the silos that stall planning from occurring and advocate for investing in a clean energy economy. We will hold Big Corporations accountable and bring public health dollars to our district to invest in green areas, access to electric public transportation, and charging stations. I have pledged not to take fossil fuel contributions from those harming our communities and hold them accountable for their actions.
Career and educational opportunities contribute to the long-term prosperity of our state. To create sustainable, good-paying jobs, we must ensure that every child has access to quality education. This directly impacts every Los Angeles family – if we want our economy to grow and continue to lead, we must make sure that our children receive a world-class education and support services. We do this by investing in our public schools, parks, recreational sports programs, and libraries to provide the foundation our K-12 students need.
With our state's $97.5 billion budget surplus, we have the resources to achieve these goals – but our wealth gap continues to grow. With this surplus, we need to invest in our public-school teachers and classified employees who are vital to our children's wellbeing. We know that low-income community students do not have the opportunity to receive these benefits and tend to be impacted by a lack of access to products that drive their creativity and passion. With this, I will work to prioritize additional resources for California students to pursue career and technical education opportunities that lead to good-paying jobs, as well as keep filming production in California and work with entertainment unions to help build a diverse pipeline of behind-the-camera talent with area schools. I will fight to bring additional funding to programs that were lost, such as sports, the arts, and STEM activities, and make investments so that all kids – no matter their zip code – benefit and thrive.
As a senator, I will take an "all of the above" approach to solve our housing crisis. This means I will prioritize funding programs that have proven results in moving unhoused populations into supportive services and housing. I know what it's like to live in unstable housing. When I was younger, we lost our family home during the subprime loan crisis, and to this day, my mother remains on a waiting list for subsidized housing. My veteran benefits were the only reason my wife and I were able to afford to buy our own home.
I am in favor of the adaptive reuse of buildings and prefabricated modular housing. We need to be smarter with the funding we get for housing, and when we build projects with a combination of nontraditional housing formats and prefab, we will be able to cut the cost and build more units. Let's look at the many abandoned buildings causing blight in communities that need and should be converted into housing. I think about expanding Project Roomkey, which converts buildings like old hotels into a living situation. This should not be solely dedicated to housing our unhoused neighbors but also to people at risk of homelessness looking for an affordable unit. The pandemic changed the way we look at our workplaces, and now more than ever, we have empty spaces. Let's convert those spaces! Let's remove the subsidies that the fossil fuel industry receives and put that revenue towards affordable housing. We provide so many tax breaks and have too many tax loopholes for big corporations and the top 1%. We need and should shift this to projects that will provide value to our society.
With projected budget surpluses, I will work to find ways we can use state funding and attract federal investments into subsidized housing. I am also interested in pursuing rent-to-own programs so families can build generational wealth. Simply creating more affordable housing will not solve our housing crisis if we don't have livable wages, family-friendly workplaces, affordable childcare, and gender pay equity to help our community afford this housing.
We also need to address immigration reform, livable wages, renter protections, pay equity, affordable childcare, and accessible transportation. Even with protections, too many illegal evictions took place during the pandemic, and renters were taken advantage of because of their immigration status. I currently work at a nonprofit where we assist people in filling out the emergency rental assistance program application to keep them housed. We need more housing, but we also need to stop the influx of those falling into an unstable housing situation. Working in local government and with this nonprofit, I have connected people to legal aid organizations to ensure they have the tools necessary to fight illegal evictions.
The San Fernando Valley is home to a large, vibrant immigrant community. As a proud daughter of Salvadoran immigrants born and raised in the Valley, I have lived first-hand the plight of immigrant families. Immigrants are an integral part of the state. From boosting California into a global economic powerhouse to contributing to the unique cultural fabric of the state.
Thanks to immigrant community leaders, California’s state laws have come a long way since the 1990s era of anti-immigrant policies. But there is still much to be done. I plan to continue on that legacy of legislative work for immigrant justice.
We have to ensure that immigrant farm workers have the necessary workplace protections and livable pay, as well as the accessible tools to form a union. That is why I walked alongside farm workers in the Central Valley in support of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Voting Choice Act this summer. I also support the VISION Act, which failed to pass when my opponent's father did not show up to vote. And as immigrant workers continue to serve on the frontlines of our economy during times of crisis, the state must also ensure that safety net programs are in place to support immigrant families when they need them the most.
In Sacramento, I will stand with immigrant communities and continue to form a more inclusive, prosperous state for everyone.