Unprecedented Federal and State Funding Provides a Unique and Time-Sensitive Opportunity to Act Swiftly and Strategically to Prevent and End Local Homelessness

Heeding to the State’s Call to Weave Its Soon to be Released
Unprecedented Funding Together with Unprecedented
Federal Funding Could Prevent and End Homelessness
for Tens of Thousands of Persons Statewide
During the Next Few Years

  • California, counties, cities, continuums of care, communities, coalitions, commissions, and committees have a chance to collaborate with and challenge each other unlike ever before

The California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency and the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council (HCFC) recently released Putting the Funding Pieces Together: Guide to Strategic Uses of New and Recent State and Federal Funds to Prevent and End Homelessness.

As stated in the letter that covers the document,

The Guide [which is organized into four (4) complementary parts] is designed to support the most effective uses of the historic levels of State and Federal investments into programs that can prevent and end homelessness, including new and expanded State investments in: Homekey; the Project Roomkey and Rehousing Strategy; the Homeless Housing, Assistance, and Prevention Program; a new Affordable Housing Backlog Production program; and a range of other essential programs administered by the State departments of Housing and Community Development, Social Services, and others.

The four (4) complementary parts are described as follows:

  • PART I: Crosswalk of Eligible and Prioritized Uses of Major State and Federal Homelessness Funding Programs, which provides guidance regarding eligible and prioritized uses of each funding source to support essential crisis response and permanent housing interventions, but should not be read to indicate that all of the funding sources can be used together for the same activities or projects.
  • PART II: Using Funding Resources Strategically, which describes State (Table 3 State Investments) and Federal (Table 4 Federal Investments) funding sources, including their funding amounts and time constraints, eligible activities, actions taken by the State of California to date to implement funds or status of implementation, and strategic guidance regarding the potentially most impactful uses of funds in local communities.
  • PART III. Putting the Pieces Together within Local Investment Plans, which includes two (2) exhibits: Exhibit 1: Sample Local Investment Plan illustrates how a community can prioritize, order, and invest the resources in four critical program areas based on local needs and opportunities; and Exhibit 2: Template for Local Investment Plan provides a template communities can use to complete a Local Investment Plan with priority uses for each resource.
  • PART IV: Defining Crisis Response and Permanent Housing Interventions, which describes and defines five (5) different categories of programs and interventions referred to within this Guide, that are critical for preventing and ending homelessness, and that can be supported through the funding sources discussed within this Guide: Interim Housing; Rental Assistance; Permanent Housing Plus Services; Diversion and Homelessness Prevention; and Outreach and Engagement.

Strategic Guidance for Local Use of State Funds

Unprecedented State funding provides a unique and time-sensitive opportunity to act swiftly and strategically to scale up evidence-based, best, promising, and emerging practices to prevent and end local homelessness for tens of thousands of individuals and families across California each year for the next several years.

Seriously considering the Strategic Guidance for Local Use of Funds noted in PART II: Using Funding Resources Strategically and detailed in Table 3 State Investments for each of the 15 listed funding sources would be well-timed and tactical. Strategic guidance is noted below for three State funding sources: Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention Program (HHAP) Round 3 and 4; Encampment Resolution Grants; and Family Homelessness Challenge Grants.

Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention Program (HHAP) Round 3 and 4

Strategic guidance for the use of Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention Program (HHAP) Round 3 and 4 funding, which consists of $1 billion annually, includes the following recommended and not recommended uses:

  • Recommended Uses: Use in conjunction with Homekey to quickly acquire buildings/units to serve as permanent supportive housing and to support their operations and service delivery.
  • Recommended Use: Use HHAP funding to increase exits from shelters and from unsheltered homelessness through Rapid Rehousing and less intensive forms of financial and problem-solving assistance, and also partner HHAP-funded services with Emergency Housing Vouchers to serve people who need both a permanent subsidy and supportive services. 
  • NOT Prioritized: HHAP funds should not be spent on eviction or homelessness prevention activities unless rehousing and diversion needs for people experiencing homelessness are adequately addressed and the COVID-19 Rent Relief Program is unable to address the need. Activities that do not directly support people to access shelter and pathways to permanent housing are not a priority use of HHAP funds. Any such activities, including eviction or homelessness prevention, will not be approved by HCFC without clear demonstration in the HHAP application and local homelessness action plan of an unmet need critical to address for a well-functioning homelessness response system

Encampment Resolution Grants

Strategic guidance for the use of Encampment Resolution Grants, which will be awarded competitively and total $50 million, includes the following recommended and not recommended uses:

Recommended Uses: The ultimate goal of this program is to identify scalable best practices for encampment resolution that can be replicated across the state. To this end, priority uses should focus on innovative models, expanding promising practices, and/or addressing new and emerging needs. That can include a mix of interventions, including outreach, interim housing, and permanent housing.

Not Recommended Uses: This grant is not intended to be the sole funding source for a new encampment resolution project. Funding should be used to accelerate promising programs and practices that are in development and that enhance partnerships and leverage other resources.

Tip: Eligible activities through this funding will, in almost all cases, be eligible uses for HHAP funding as well. Jurisdictions should consider whether an initiative that may be funded through this program can be launched with HHAP and enhanced with [Encampment Resolution] Grant funds if awarded.

Family Homelessness Challenge Grants

Strategic guidance for the use of Family Homelessness Challenge Grants, which will be awarded competitively and total $40 million, includes the following recommended and not recommended uses:

Recommended Uses: The ultimate goal of this program is to identify scalable best practices for ending family homelessness that can be replicated across the state. To this end, priority uses should focus on innovative models, expanding promising practices, and/or addressing new and emerging needs. That can include a mix of interventions, including outreach, interim housing, and permanent housing.

Not Recommended Uses: This grant is not intended to be the sole funding source for a new family homelessness project. Funding should accelerate promising programs and practices that are in development and enhances partnerships and leveraging of other resources. This grant is also not prioritized to fund existing programs and models that are already well known and established in the homelessness response system.

Tip: Eligible activities for this funding will, in almost all cases, be eligible uses for HHAP funding as well. Jurisdictions should consider whether an initiative that may be funded through this program can be launched with HHAP and enhanced with Challenge Grant funds if awarded.

Strategic Guidance for Local Use of Federal Funds

Unprecedented Federal funding provides a unique and time-sensitive opportunity to act swiftly and strategically to scale evidence-based, best, promising, and emerging practices to prevent and end local homelessness for thousands of individuals and families across the state each year for the next several years.

Seriously considering the Strategic Guidance for Local Use of Funds noted in Table 4 Federal Investments for each of the six (6) listed funding sources would be well-timed and tactical. Strategic guidance for three of the funding sources follows:

Emergency Solutions Grant Funding in Cares Act (ESG-CV)

Strategic guidance for Emergency Solutions Grant Funding in Cares Act (ESG-CV) includes the following recommendations:

Recommended Uses: Rapid Rehousing should be the prioritized use for ESG-CV, including supporting people to exit Project Roomkey sites, Homekey sites currently serving as interim housing, and other sheltered and unsheltered settings. Both HUD and the State encourage a focus on Rapid Rehousing.

Recommended Use: ESG-CV can be used to support operations and services at Homekey sites that are serving as interim housing.

Community Development Block Grant Funding in Cares Act (CDBG-CV)

Strategic guidance for Community Development Block Grant Funding in Cares Act (CDBG-CV) includes the following recommendation:

Recommended Use: Use these resources first to support the timely acquisition of hotels and other housing sites in conjunction with Homekey, and to fund any needed improvements to make them useable as permanent or interim housing.

Home-American Rescue Plan Program

Strategic guidance for Home-American Rescue Plan Program funding includes the following recommendation

Recommended Uses: Communities should first assess whether their allocation of HOME-ARP can help make possible the development of new permanent supportive housing or non-congregate shelter/interim housing units, including in partnership with Homekey funding, to expand their system’s capacity for the long term.

Next Steps: Unprecedented Planning

Local Investment Plans

As previously noted, the State Guide includes

  • PART III. Putting the Pieces Together within Local Investment Plans, which includes two (2) exhibits: Exhibit 1: Sample Local Investment Plan illustrates how a community can prioritize, order, and invest the resources in four critical program areas based on local needs and opportunities; and Exhibit 2: Template for Local Investment Plan provides a template communities can use to complete a Local Investment Plan with priority uses for each resource.

The Guide provides Exhibit 1 as an example of how a community can prioritize and order the use of funds and resources within an effective Local Investment Plan, to drive progress on key performance measures. 

The Guide also provides Exhibit 2. Using [Exhibit 1] as a guide, first identify highly-prioritized investments, targets to be achieved through those investments, and which performance measures they are intended to impact. Then identify the specific funding that will be invested into essential crisis response and housing interventions to achieve those targets.

Homekey Round 2 and Leveraging Federal and Other State Funding Sources

The State Guide also includes several recommendations that focus on leveraging several Federal and State funding sources with Homekey Round 2, which includes $2.75 billion in State funding over two (2) years to further the past unmatched success of Homekey Round 1 and advance its unparalleled course. Eligible activities include:

  • Acquisition or Rehabilitation, or acquisition and Rehabilitation, of motels, hotels, hostels, or other sites and assets, including apartments or homes, adult residential facilities, residential care facilities for the elderly, manufactured housing, commercial properties, and other buildings with existing uses that could be converted to permanent or interim housing.
  • Master leasing of properties for non-congregate housing.
  • Conversion of units from nonresidential to residential.
  • New construction of dwelling units.
  • The purchase of affordability covenants and restrictions for units.

As previously noted, one of the State recommended uses included

Also, as previously noted, recommended uses concerning Federal funding sources included

  • Using Home-American Rescue Plan Program funding to first assess whether their allocation of HOME-ARP can help make possible the development of new permanent supportive housing or non-congregate shelter/interim housing units, including in partnership with Homekey funding, to expand their system’s capacity for the long term.

Click here to learn more about the past success and future course of Homekey.

Leave a Comment