Governor Approved Several Legislative Bills Concerning Homelessness During the 2021 Legislative Session: What’s in the Legislation?

The 2021 Legislative Session concluded on September 10. The last day the Governor could act on legislation was October 10. The Legislature is scheduled to reconvene on January 3, 2022 to further the next legislative session.

Regarding homelessness, the approved 2021 legislation requires:

  • Renaming the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council to the California Interagency Council on Homelessness and adding new members as stated in AB 1220.
  • A city or county that receives a complaint from an occupant of a homeless shelter, or an agent of an occupant, alleging that a homeless shelter is substandard to inspect the homeless shelter as stated in AB 362.
  • The Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission established under the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) to report outcomes for people receiving community mental health services under a full-service partnership model to strengthen full service partnerships to reduce incarceration, hospitalization, and homelessness as stated in SB 465.
  • A local educational agency to ensure that each school within the local educational agency identifies all homeless children and youths and unaccompanied youths, as defined, enrolled at the school as stated in AB 27.
  • A county behavioral health director who denies or revokes an individual’s designation to provide a written notification to the person who made the request for designation of the individual, and the individual who is the subject of the request for designation, describing the reasons for denial or revocation as stated in AB 1443.
  • Department of Housing and Community Development to prioritize funding for projects that serve people experiencing homelessness, to the extent that a sufficient number of projects exist in collaboration with the California Housing Finance Agency regarding the funds received by the state from the federal Housing Trust Fund based on an allocation plan to demonstrate how the funds will be distributed as stated in AB 816.
  • The California Interagency Council on Homelessness Council to specify the format and disclosure frequency of the required HUD defined Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) Universal Data Elements and Common Data Elements as a condition of receiving state funds and require the Council to provide the aggregate data summaries collected to specified state agencies or departments as stated in AB 977.
  • A liaison for homeless children and youths of a local educational agency, as defined to include a school district, county office of education, charter school, or special education local plan area to ensure identification of homeless children and youth and State Department of Education to develop and implement a system to verify that local educational agencies are providing federally required training to school personnel as stated in SB 400.
  • The Interagency Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship to create a subcommittee to study and report on issues related to the participation of homeless youth and foster youth, as defined, in apprenticeships and preapprenticeships, and prescribe specified subjects the subcommittee is to address and authorize the subject matters of study and reporting to be expanded to include issues relating to minority populations as stated in AB 565.

A Summary of the Approved Legislative Bills

  • AB 1220, as amended, Luz Rivas. Homelessness: California Interagency Council on Homelessness.

This bill would rename the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council to the California Interagency Council on Homelessness and would remove authorization for the Secretary of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing’s designee to serve as chair of the council. The bill would instead require the Secretary of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency and the Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency to serve as cochairs of the council. The bill would make other changes to the council’s membership, including adding 5 new members, as specified. 

The bill would require the council to seek guidance from and meet with an advisory committee to the council, consisting of specified members. The bill would also provide that the appointed members of the council or committees serve at the pleasure of their appointing authority. The bill would require a state agency or department that administers one or more state homelessness programs, as described, upon request of the council, to participate in council workgroups, task forces, or other similar administrative structures and to provide to the council any relevant information regarding those state homelessness programs. The bill would also make conforming changes.

  • AB 362, as Amended, Quirk-Silva. Homeless shelters: safety regulations

This bill would require each city or county to conduct at least one announced or unannounced inspection of each homeless shelter, as defined, within its jurisdiction every year. The bill would require a city or county that receives a complaint from an occupant of a homeless shelter, or an agent of an occupant, alleging that a homeless shelter is substandard to inspect the homeless shelter, as specified. 

The bill would require a city or county that determines that a homeless shelter is substandard to issue a notice to correct the violation to the owner or operator of the homeless shelter within 10 business days of the inspection or issue the notice to correct the violation immediately if the violation constitutes an imminent threat to the health and safety of the occupants of the homeless shelter.

  • SB 465, Eggman. Mental health.

Existing law, the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), an initiative measure enacted by the voters as Proposition 63 at the November 2, 2004, statewide general election, establishes the continuously appropriated Mental Health Services Fund to fund various county mental health programs and establishes the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission to oversee the administration of various parts of the act. 

This bill would require the commission to report to specified legislative committees the outcomes for people receiving community mental health services under a full service partnership model, as specified, including any barriers to receiving the data and recommendations to strengthen California’s use of full service partnerships to reduce incarceration, hospitalization, and homelessness.

  • AB 27, as Amended, Luz Rivas. Homeless children and youths and unaccompanied youths: reporting.

This bill would require a local educational agency to (A) ensure that each school within the local educational agency identifies all homeless children and youths and unaccompanied youths, as defined, enrolled at the school, (B) administer a housing questionnaire, as specified, for purposes of identifying homeless children and youths and unaccompanied youths, and (C) annually provide the housing questionnaire to all parents or guardians of pupils and unaccompanied youths of the local educational agency. 

This bill would require a school district, charter school, or county office of education to create an internet web page or post on its internet website a list of the local educational agency liaisons for homeless children and youths and unaccompanied youths in that school district, charter school, or county office of education, respectively, the contact information for those liaisons, and specific information regarding the educational rights and resources available to persons experiencing homelessness.

  • AB 1443, McCarty. Mental health: involuntary treatment.

This bill would authorize a county to develop a training relating to those procedures for designation. The bill would require a county behavioral health director who denies or revokes an individual’s designation to provide a written notification to the person who made the request for designation of the individual, and the individual who is the subject of the request for designation, describing the reasons for denial or revocation.

  •  AB 816, as Amended, Chiu. Homelessness: Housing Trust Fund: housing projects.

This bill would require the department to prioritize funding for projects that serve people experiencing homelessness, to the extent that a sufficient number of projects exist. The bill would authorize the (Department of Housing and Community Development) to alter priority for funding to align eligibility for possible benefits, including Medi-Cal benefits that are intended to assist people experiencing homelessness.

  • AB 977, as Amended, Gabriel. Homelessness program data reporting: Homeless Management Information System.

This bill would require, beginning January 1, 2023, that a grantee or entity operating specified state homelessness programs, including the No Place Like Home Program, as a condition of receiving state funds, to enter Universal Data Elements and Common Data Elements, as defined by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development Homeless Management Information System Data Standards, on the individuals and families it serves into its local Homeless Management Information System, unless otherwise exempted by state or federal law. 

The bill would require the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council to specify the format and disclosure frequency of the required data elements. The bill would apply the data entry requirements to all new state homelessness programs that commence on or after July 1, 2021. The bill would also require the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council to provide technical assistance and guidance to any grantee or entity that operates a program subject to the bill, if the grantee or entity does not already collect and enter into the local Homeless Management Information System the data elements required. The bill would require the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council to provide the aggregate data summaries collected under these provisions to specified state agencies or departments within 45 days of receipt, as specified.

  • SB 400, as amended, Jones. Homeless children and youths: local educational agencies: collaboration, training, and reporting.

This bill would require a liaison for homeless children and youths of a local educational agency, as defined to include a school district, county office of education, charter school, or special education local plan area, to ensure the identification by school personnel of those children and youths through outreach and coordination activities with other organizations and the referral of services to homeless families and homeless children and youth.

  • AB 565, Lackey. Interagency Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship: homeless youth and foster youth.

This bill would require the Interagency Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship to create a subcommittee to study and report on issues related to the participation of homeless youth and foster youth, as defined, in apprenticeships and preapprenticeships, and prescribe specified subjects the subcommittee is to address. The bill would authorize the subject matters of study and reporting to be expanded to include issues relating to minority populations, at the request of a committee member. The bill would require, on and after July 1, 2023, that the findings and recommendations be included in a specified report. 

2022 Legislative Session

The Legislature is scheduled to reconvene on January 3, 2022.  Over the next few months, legislators will use their time to cultivate new legislative proposals for next year, meet with their constituents in the district, and participate in select committee hearings that deal with various topics including homelessness.

Members of the Legislature will begin submitting language to legislative counsel and start introducing bills as early as November/December to engage next year’s Legislative process.

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