Legislators Recently Introduced Several New Bills That Include Many New Actions to Help Reduce Statewide Homelessness
- These bills propose creating new state departments; convening a funder’s workgroup; new grant programs and funding sources; a focus on selected subpopulations; new reporting requirements; option to provide state funding for housing that does not comply with Housing First; determining a homeless shelter crisis; new zoning designations for emergency shelters; immunity from civil liability for an injury not a result from gross negligence or intentional misconduct; and intent to enact subsequent legislation relating to homelessness.
Bills introduced by legislators between the time the Legislature reconvened on January 3 and the last day for bills to be introduced, which was February 18, included several bills that reveal new proposed actions that legislators want to enact to help reduce statewide homelessness.
These bills, which are grouped below, must pass through a process that includes the preparation of a bill analysis, committee hearings, second and third reading, resolution of differences between the Assembly and Senate, and approval or not by the Governor by September 30.
New State Departments and a Funder’s Workgroup
Some of the new activities to help reduce statewide homelessness involve creating new state departments and a funder’s workgroup:
- Requiring the California Department of Aging to create and administer the Housing Stabilization to Prevent and End Homelessness Among Older Adults and People with Disabilities Program (AB 2547 Housing Stabilization to Prevent and End Homelessness Among Older Adults and People with Disabilities Act)
- Requiring the California Interagency Council on Homelessness to convene a funder’s workgroup to accomplish specified goals related to ending homelessness (AB 2325 Coordinated Homelessness Response)
- Requiring the California Health and Human Services Agency to create a Department of Homelessness Prevention, Outreach, and Support (AB 2569 Department of Homelessness Prevention, Outreach, and Support)
New Grant Programs and Other Funding Sources
- Requiring the Department of Justice to administer a competitive grant program to enable local law enforcement agencies to establish and operate homeless outreach teams (SB 1006 Law Enforcement: Homeless Outreach Teams)
- Requiring the Board of State and Community Corrections to establish two new grant programs: the Homeless and Mental Health Court Grant Program and the Transitioning Home Grant Program (SB 1427 Board of State and Community Corrections: Homeless and Mental Health Court and Transitioning Home Grant Programs)
- Requiring relevant state and local departments to consider the use of funds received under the terms of the 2021 Multistate Opioid Settlement Agreement settlement for the treatment and prevention of addiction within the homeless population (SB 1282 Homelessness: Addiction Treatment and Prevention: Funding)
- Requiring the Department of Housing and Community Development, to award reasonable priority points to Multifamily Housing Program project applicants that agree to set aside at least 25 units for individuals that are either experiencing homelessness or eligible to receive specified services, including, among others, those received under the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (AB 2483 Housing for Individuals Experiencing Homelessness)
- Requiring the California Interagency Council on Homelessness to set and measure progress toward goals to prevent and end homelessness among domestic violence survivors and their children and among unaccompanied women in California (SB 914 Homeless Domestic Violence Survivors and Data Systems: Local and State Support and Guidelines)
- Requiring the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation to support young people experiencing homelessness and to prevent and eradicate homelessness among California’s youth, and would make related findings and declarations (AB 2663 Youth Homelessness)
- Requiring the California Rehabilitation Oversight Board in the Office of the Inspector General to examine the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s efforts to address the housing needs of incarcerated persons, including those who are identified as having serious mental health needs, who are released to the community as parolees or subject to postrelease community supervision and to include specified data on homelessness in its reports (SB 903 California Rehabilitation Oversight Board)
- Requiring the intent of the Legislature enact legislation that would amend the Mental Health Services Act to provide the counties with more flexibility in shifting county MHSA money between programs for persons who are homeless and have serious mental illness (SB 1283 Mental Health Services Act)
- Authorizing any county or city to adopt conservatorship provisions for the appointment of a conservator for a person who is incapable of caring for the person’s own health and well-being due to a serious mental illness and substance use disorder, as specified, for the purpose of providing the least restrictive and most clinically appropriate alternative needed for the protection of the person (SB 1303 Conservatorships: Serious Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders: Counties)
- Requiring that the Department of Housing and Community Development include an assessment of the Homeless Housing, Assistance, and Prevention (HHAP) program in its annual report to the Governor and both houses of the Legislature on the operations and accomplishments during the previous fiscal year of the housing programs administered by the department (AB 1830 Department of Housing and Community Development: Annual Report: Homeless Housing, Assistance, and Prevention Program)
- Requiring each city, county, and city and county that has used funds from any source to assist in addressing homelessness to submit a report to the California Interagency Council on Homelessness providing specified information, thereby imposing a state-mandated local program and the bill would include findings that changes proposed by this bill address a matter of statewide concern rather than a municipal affair and, therefore, apply to all cities, including charter cities (AB 2630 Housing: California Interagency Council on Homelessness: Report)
- Requiring a local city or county to develop and maintain a publicly available internet website homelessness dashboard and to annually report to the California Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) expenditures on homelessness programs and efforts provided to homeless persons within its jurisdiction, as well as related information regarding the funding of these services, and to post that information to its homelessness dashboard. This bill would require the council to develop and maintain a publicly available internet website homelessness dashboard for prescribed purposes. The bill would require the ICH to annually report to the Legislature, and annually post to its homelessness dashboard, information related to programs that state and local governments have undertaken to reduce homelessness in California, including federal funding for state and local programs (SB 1353 Homeless Population Census Information: Collection and Reporting)
Non-Compliance with Housing First
- Authorizing an agency or department that administers a state program that has incorporated core components of Housing First to provide funding in accordance with the state program to housing that does not comply with Housing First (SB 1284 Homelessness: State Programs: Housing First)
Immunity from Civil Liability
- This bill would exempt a nonprofit charitable organization, as defined, from civil liability for an injury occurring on its premises and resulting from the provision of services to homeless persons, unless the injury results from gross negligence or intentional misconduct (AB 2591 Homeless services: nonprofit charitable organizations: immunity from civil liability)
- Existing law provides that a temporary homeless shelter community may include supportive and self-sufficiency development services and that a homeless shelter includes a parking lot owned or leased by a city, county, or city and county specifically identified as one allowed for safe parking by homeless and unstably housed individuals. Existing law repeals these provisions as of January 1, 2026.
- This bill would remove the repeal date from these provisions. This bill would provide that a city, county, or city and county is in a shelter crisis if the number of unsheltered homeless persons that comprises the total homeless population within the jurisdiction of the city, county, or city and county is greater, as a percentage, than the combined average of the 49 states in the United States not including California, as determined by the Department of Housing and Community Development, as specified. This bill would apply the provisions applicable to a city, county, or city and county that has declared a shelter crisis to those jurisdictions in the above circumstance. This bill would require the department to publish a list of jurisdictions that are in a shelter crisis pursuant to this provision on its internet website. This bill would expand the definition of homeless shelter to include any facility that is leased by the city, county, or city and county for the purpose of providing temporary shelter for the homeless and any facility that is not owned or leased by the city, county, or city and county but that is voluntarily provided to the city, county, or city and county for the purpose of providing temporary shelter for the homeless. By requiring a city, county, or city and county to provide a new level of service, this bill would create a state-mandated local program.
- This bill would revise the requirements of the housing element, as described above, in connection with zoning designations that allow residential use, including mixed use, where emergency shelters are allowed as a permitted use without a conditional use or other discretionary permit. The bill would prohibit a city or county from establishing overlay districts to comply with these provisions. The bill would delete language regarding emergency shelter standards structured in relation to residential and commercial developments and instead require that emergency shelters only be subject to specified written, objective standards. The bill would specify that emergency shelters for purposes of these provisions include other interim intervention, including, but not limited to, navigation centers, bridge housing, and respite or recuperative care.
- The bill would require that identified zoning designations where emergency shelters are allowed to include sites that meet at least one of certain prescribed standards. In this regard, the bill would require those sites to be either (1) vacant and zoned for residential use; (2) vacant and zoned for nonresidential use if the local government can demonstrate how the sites are connected to amenities and services that serve people experiencing homelessness; or (3) nonvacant if the site is adequate and available for use as a shelter in the current planning period, as specified. The bill would require the identified zoning designations to include sufficient sites to accommodate the need for shelters, as specified. The bill would also require that the number of people experiencing homelessness that can be accommodated on each identified site under these provisions be demonstrated by calculating a minimum of 200 square feet per person.
Enact Subsequent Legislation Relating to Homelessness
- Existing law establishes the Homeless Housing, Assistance, and Prevention program for the purpose of providing jurisdictions, as defined, with one-time grant funds to support regional coordination and expand or develop local capacity to address their immediate homelessness challenges, as specified. This bill would declare the intent of the Legislature to enact subsequent legislation relating to homelessness (AB 2817 Homelessness)
- Existing law establishes various programs to address homelessness. Existing law requires the Governor to establish the California Interagency Council on Homelessness, and requires the council to, among other things, set and measure progress toward goals to prevent and end homelessness among youth in California. Existing law also establishes the California Emergency Solutions and Housing Program, under the administration of the Department of Housing and Community Development and requires the department to, among other things, provide rental assistance and housing relocation and stabilization services to ensure housing affordability to people who are experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of homelessness. This bill would state the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation to address homelessness (AB 2434 Homelessness).