Current California Legislation Concerning Homelessness: What Is Going to the Governor for Approval and What Is Not
What is going to the Governor is needed.
What is not going to the Governor is also needed.
The Legislature concluded the 2019-20 legislative session at midnight on August 31, 2020.
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic upon the Legislature was evident. After taking an unprecedented two-month pause during the early spring, lawmakers returned to the Capitol in May. However, an estimated three-quarters of the bills introduced at the beginning of the year did not pass by the end of August, including bills crafted to help solve the state’s homelessness crisis.
While legislation to help solve statewide homelessness unlike ever before is going to the Governor for approval, other needed legislation is not going to the Governor for approval.
What Is Going to the Governor for Approval
AB 1845 Homelessness: Office to End Homelessness
AB 1845 would create the Office to End Homelessness within the Governor’s office and be under the direct control of a Secretary on Homelessness who would be appointed by the Governor and report to the Governor.
Responsibilities of the newly created office would include:
- Recommend to the Governor and the Legislature new state policies, programs, and actions, or amendments to existing programs;
- Coordinate homelessness programs, services, data, and policies between federal, state, and local agencies;
- Coordinate the timing of release of funds and applications for funding for housing and housing-based services impacting Californians experiencing homelessness;
- Collaborate with local homeless continuums of care and jurisdictions receiving state funding;
- Coordinate relevant state agencies and departments (which includes more than 30 different state homelessness programs administered by 13 different state agencies;
- Coordinate with staff in the Governor’s office to solicit monetary donations or in-kind donations from businesses, nonprofit organizations, or individuals for the purpose of encouraging innovation in ending homelessness and augmenting funding for evidence-based housing and services; and
- Aligning requests for proposals, notices of funding availability, grant agreements, or contracts that state agencies and departments shall use in administering programs offering housing or housing-based services.
To read the entire bill click here.
What Is Not Going to the Governor for Approval
AB 3269 State and Local Agencies: Homelessness Plan
AB 3269 focused on a statewide needs and gaps analysis to, among other things, identify state programs that provide housing or services to persons experiencing homelessness and create a financial model that will assess certain investment needs for the purpose of moving persons experiencing homelessness into permanent housing.
AB 3269 would have required each county to submit to the Department of Community Development and Housing
- an actionable county-level plan for meeting specific annual benchmarks, with the goal of achieving the state-identified benchmark goal; and
- would require each city in the local agency’s (county) jurisdiction to participate in the (county-level) plan; and
- each local agency (county) would be required to request and actively seek the participation of all homeless continuums of care that serve the local agency’s jurisdiction.
AB 3269 stated that
- It is the intent of the Legislature that the state, each local agency, and each city shall aim to reduce homelessness in their jurisdiction by 90 percent by December 31, 2028, based on the 2019 homeless point-in-time count pursuant to Section 578.3 of Title 24 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
AB 3269 would have required
- the department to review submitted plans and provide feedback and recommended revisions;
- the state or a local agency (county) to either adopt those recommended revisions, or adopt findings as to why the recommended revisions are not needed; and the department to monitor the implementation and progress of state and local agency plans.
To read the entire bill click here.
Implications for Next Steps
Tens of billions in federal, state, county, city, and private dollars have been spent over the past few decades to solve homelessness in California. Yet, the number of persons experiencing homelessness has increased significantly according to statewide point-in-time homeless counts, which includes tens of thousands of unsheltered persons living and languishing outdoors and vulnerable to illness, injury, and death.
An already precarious situation has been further exacerbated by the coronavirus. Also, the impact of the virus in terms of eviction is yet unknown. Media reports note that more and more households are struggling to pay rent. The State of California has taken unprecedented action to prevent evictions through January, 2021.
Indeed, the first step to more effectively spend tens of billions of dollars during the coming years is to create an Office to End Homelessness within the Governor’s office under a Secretary on Homelessness appointed by the Governor and reporting to the Governor.
Recommending to the Governor and the Legislature new state policies, programs, and actions, or amendments to existing programs after coordinating homelessness programs, services, data, and policies between federal, state, and local agencies is critical;
Coordinating the timing of release of funds and applications for funding for housing and housing-based services impacting Californians experiencing homelessness and Aligning requests for proposals, notices of funding availability, grant agreements, or contracts that state agencies and departments shall use in administering programs offering housing or housing-based services is crucial; and
Soliciting monetary donations or in-kind donations from businesses, nonprofit organizations, or individuals for the purpose of encouraging innovation in ending homelessness and augmenting funding for evidence-based housing and services is vital.
A second step should include the following primary actions outlined in AB 3269, which is not going to the Governor for approval, because the actions would help the Office to End Homelessness successfully carry out its responsibilities.
- Complete a Statewide Needs and Gaps Analysis
AB 3269 stated that a statewide needs and gaps analysis should include:
- Identify programs in the state that provide housing or services to persons experiencing homelessness;
- Identify the total number and type of permanent housing beds, units, or opportunities available to persons experiencing homelessness statewide and in geographically diverse regions across the state;
- Analyze the need for permanent housing opportunities, including, but not limited to, supportive housing, rapid rehousing, and affordable housing;
- Analyze the need for services to assist persons in exiting homelessness and remaining housed;
- Identify the number of and types of interim interventions available to persons experiencing homelessness in geographically diverse regions across the state identify state programs that provide housing or services to persons experiencing homelessness;
- Analyze the need for additional interim interventions and funding needed to create these interventions, taking into consideration the ideal length of stay in or use of the intervention;
- Identify state-funded institutional settings that discharge persons into homelessness, and the total number of persons discharged into homelessness from each of those settings;
- Collect data on the numbers and demographics of persons experiencing homelessness, including, but not limited to,a quantification of the racial and ethnic disparities in the homeless population relative to the general population;
- Collect data, to the extent data is available, on exits from homelessness to housing, including, but not limited to, the number of people moving into permanent housing and the type of housing being accessed, the type of interventions people exiting homelessness received; and
- To the extent data is available, assess a sampling of data provided by local jurisdictions regarding the number of people experiencing homelessness who accessed interim interventions, including, but not limited to, shelters, recuperative care, and motels and hotels, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the number of people who were able to access permanent housing on or before the expiration of interim assistance.
- Develop a Financial Model to Assess Certain Investment Needs
The legislation identified the need to develop a financial model that
- Will assess needs for investment in capital, in operating supports in project-based housing, in rental assistance with private-market landlords, and in services costs for purposes of moving persons experiencing homelessness into permanent housing;
- Include an explanation of how these investments will affirmatively reduce and close any racial disparities identified in the homeless population; and
- An financial analysis of the costs of filling those gaps in interventions needed to solve homelessness at a state level.
- Set Appropriate Benchmark Goals
AB 3269 also identified the need to set appropriate benchmark goals that would require the Department of Housing and Community Development (department)
- To set a benchmark goal in reducing homelessness by January 1, 2028, for the state pursuant to the statewide needs and gaps analysis;
- To approve or work with local agencies, as defined, to identify, as provided, appropriate benchmark goals to reduce homelessness for each local agency and cities within each local agency; and set annual benchmarks to meet these benchmark goals; and
- These benchmark goals shall establish
- The minimum number of people experiencing homelessness who are diverted from a homeless shelter or who have successfully accessed permanent housing during the relevant period; and
- The minimum reductions in people becoming homeless, including targeted homelessness prevention and reductions in returns to homelessness, during the relevant period.
- Require Actionable County-level Plans for Meeting Specific Annual Benchmarks
The legislation would have required each local agency defined as a County to submit to the Department of Community Development and Housing (department)
- an actionable county-level plan for meeting specific annual benchmarks, with the goal of achieving the state-identified benchmark goal;
- require each city in the local agency’s jurisdiction to participate in the plan, and each local agency would be required to request and actively seek the participation of all homeless continuums of care that serve the local agency’s jurisdiction; and
- the plan include all of the following:
- A gaps analysis, conducted by the local agency or a homeless continuum of care that serves the local agency, that assesses key indicators of homeless system performance, including estimates of inflow into homelessness, exits to permanent housing, length of time of homelessness, rate of returns to homelessness, and other federal Department of Housing and Urban Development System Performance Measures, disaggregated by race, and that quantifies the need for interim, affordable, rapid rehousing, and supportive housing interventions, and the associated costs for those interventions, to achieve a 90-percent reduction in population-level homelessness by December 31, 2028;
- A description of any racial and ethnic disparities among the homeless population relative to the general population, and a description of the specific actions that will be taken to affirmatively eliminate these disparities by December 31, 2028;
- A description and the amount of all funding sources that the local agency, and any incorporated jurisdiction and continuum of care within the local agency, has earmarked or committed to addressing homelessness, mental illness, substance use, medical care, justice system needs, and child welfare within their jurisdiction;
- The estimated amount of additional funding needed to meet the homelessness reduction goal;
- Timelines for the state or local agency to utilize the funding identified;
- Specific actions that the local agency, cities in the local agency’s jurisdiction, and the homeless continuum of care that serves the local agency will take to meet the goal established in subdivision, taking into account funding limitations, and the housing market in the local agency’s area, by reducing the number of individuals who are experiencing homelessness in the relevant jurisdiction by moving individuals into permanent housing and ensuring the adequate provision of related social services to achieve and maintain that housing;
- Specific roles and responsibilities that each local agency, city, and homeless continuum of care will assume to meet the benchmark goal established in subdivision (a), to ensure collaboration, leverage resources, and avoid the duplication of services and efforts. Identifying roles may include roles in siting housing and establishing zoning, funding affordable and supportive housing, funding rapid rehousing, funding interim interventions, funding services, establishing and running coordinated entry systems, promoting health and services access, and establishing protocols to avoid discharges from institutional systems into homelessness; and
- A plan may identify innovative projects to test new policies or programs that are designed to help the local agency meet its benchmark goal by reducing costs, leveraging additional resources, or increasing performance, such as by increasing housing exits, reducing returns to homelessness, and reducing the length of time experiencing homelessness.
- Necessitate Annual Progress Reports
AB 3269 also identified the need for annual progress reports. The bill would have required
- the state and each local agency to submit an annual progress report to the department that details the progress and implementation of the adopted plan and any amendments proposed to the plan;
- the department to review submitted plans and provide feedback and recommended revisions;
- the state or a local agency (County) to either adopt those recommended revisions, or adopt findings as to why the recommended revisions are not needed; and
- the department to monitor the implementation and progress of state and local agency plans.
Future legislation should include primary actions described in AB 3269, which would increase the ability of the Office to End Homelessness to direct tens of billions of dollars towards solving homelessness. These actions should also be included in future Notices of Funding Availability (NOFAs) as requirements for receiving future state funding to help solve homelessness.
To date, the unprecedented amount of funding from the state to help solve homelessness has stemmed from past legislation that primarily created one-time funding streams.
An annual funding stream should be legislatively passed similar to the one included in AB 3300, which was not approved by the legislature for submission to the Governor by August 31. The bill specified various requirements for counties and continuums of care to apply jointly, and for cities with a population of 300,000 persons or more to apply, for allocations from the fund created by the bill. AB 3300 did not include primary actions described in AB 3269, though the bill did encourage collaboration between different levels of government, scaling evidence-based solutions while promoting innovation, and funding aligned with relevant data and outcomes.
An annual funding stream that includes the primary actions described in AB 3269 as requirements for recipients of funds would enhance the Office to End Homelessness ability to successfully carry out its responsibilities. Doing so, would help the State of California make significant progress towards long-desired objectives that include statewide data driven planning and policy-making, closer collaborative partnerships between state, counties, cities, and continuums of care, and directing ongoing funding towards evidence-based, best, promising, and emerging practices.