Within Our Reach: A State-wide Strategy to End Chronic Homelessness. Recent Legislation and Related Funding Have Created an Unprecedented Opportunity
–-Unprecedented Opportunity Provides California with a Unique Chance
to Creatively Coordinate A Course of Action–
–Recent Legislation and Related Funding Have Created an Extraordinary Opening
That Can Be Collectively Clutched by State Officials, Counties, Cities, and Continuums of Care–
Recent state legislation has made permanent supportive housing (PSH) a land use by right throughout California. PSH is an effective and evidence-based practice for ending chronic homelessness, which pairs housing subsidy with supportive services and case management.
Recent state legislation also created multiple funding sources to significantly increase the number of PSH units throughout California.
For the first time, the State of California has the legislation, the funding, and an increasing political will, to shape a strategy to end chronic homelessness. By aligning PSH as a land use by right with several funding sources to create PSH provides an unprecedented opportunity for state officials, counties, cities, and continuums of care to advance state-wide partnerships that are crucial for the formulation of a state-wide strategy to end chronic homelessness. Aligning these two historic legislative acts provides the building blocks for a state-wide strategy to end chronic homelessness, which requires taking two next steps in unison as outlined below.
Aligning permanent supportive housing as a land use by right
Step 1. Make sure that Permanent Supportive Housing is a use by right in all cities and counties in accordance with AB 2162 and the SB 2 Planning Grants Program
AB 2162 requires
“supportive housing be a use by right in zones where multifamily and mixed uses are permitted, including nonresidential zones permitting multifamily uses, if the proposed housing development meets specified criteria, and would require a local government to approve, within specified periods, a supportive housing development that complies with these requirements. The bill would require that a developer of supportive housing provide the planning agency with a plan for providing supportive services, with documentation demonstrating that supportive services will be provided onsite to residents in the project and describing those services, as provided.”
As noted in Section 1, the Legislature found and declared the following:
“Given the urgent need to provide supportive housing to Californians experiencing chronic homelessness, streamlining and expediting the process of approving supportive housing applications will offer housing opportunities in communities with few or no opportunities to exit chronic homelessness.”
SB 2 Planning Grants Program
SB 2 Planning Grants Program provides a share of $123 million to each of the more than 500 cities and counties in California for several eligible activities that include:
“Updates to general plans, community plans, specific plans, local planning related to implementation of sustainable communities strategies, or local coastal plans;” and
“Updates to zoning ordinances.”
Such updates should include supportive housing be a use by right in zones as noted above for “Zoning for by-right supportive housing, pursuant to Government Code section 65651 (Chapter 753, Statutes of 2018)” is specifically noted by the Program.
Aligning several funding sources
Step 2. Include permanent supportive housing as an eligible activity in all future funding sources and include funding requirements that forge partnerships between public and private entities to scale permanent supportive housing developments.
Six funding sources are described below that include permanent supportive housing as an eligible activity and include funding requirements that provide essential building blocks for eligible applicants to forge partnerships between public and private agencies and to help scale permanent supportive housing developments. Click on a funding source below for details for forging partnerships and scaling developments for that particular funding source.
Existing Legislation, known as the No Place Like Home (NPLH) Program, requires the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) to award $2,000,000,000 among counties to finance capital costs, including, but not limited to, acquisition, design, construction, rehabilitation, or preservation, and to capitalize operating reserves, of permanent supportive housing for persons who are experiencing homelessness, chronic homelessness or who are at risk of chronic homelessness, and who are in need of mental health services.
The legislation requires “that $1,800,000,000 of the moneys available under the program be awarded, in at least 4 rounds, by a competitive program based on specified criteria, including that the county has developed a county plan to combat homelessness.”
HCD announce the availability of approximately $400 million in Round 1 Competitive Allocation funds for the NPLH program. Applications were due in January 2019 and awards were recently announced that included funding for 805 permanent supportive housing units.
The legislation allowed HCD to distribute a non-competitive allocation of $190 million to that required counties to submit a Noncompetitive Allocation Acceptance Form and an executed copy of the Authorizing Resolution to HCD by August 15, 2019. Counties that failed to submit the required documentation had their unawarded non-competitive transferred into the NPLH Competitive Allocation for future Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) Allocations. The deadline for counties that submitted their required documentation to submit project applications for their non-competitive allocation is February 15, 2021.
More Competitive Funding
A Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for the next competitive round of $400 million from the NPLH program is scheduled to be released in September, 2019. Applications will be due November, 2019 and awards will be made by March, 2020.
Existing legislation created the Housing for a Healthy California Program in order to provide grants to counties for permanent supportive housing for individuals who are recipients of or eligible for health care provided through the California Department of Health Care Services, Medi-Cal program.
A 2019 Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for Housing for a Healthy California Program Article I – National Housing Trust Fund Allocation Funds was released in May, 2019 by HCD that made approximately $33 million in National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) Allocation funds for the Housing for a Healthy California (HHC) program. Applications were due August 13, 2019. Awards will be made by the end of 2019.
A NOFA for an additional $33 million is scheduled to be released in February, 2020 and applications will be due by May, 2020. Target Population will be persons who are “Chronically homeless or is Homeless and a High-cost health user upon initial eligibility, is a MediCal beneficiary, is eligible for Supplemental Security Income, is eligible to receive services under a program providing services promoting housing stability, and is likely to improve his or her health conditions with Supportive housing.”
Recent legislation also created the Permanent Local Housing Allocation (PLHA) Program in order to help cities and counties implement plans to increase the affordable housing stock including permanent supportive housing.
The program provides non-competitive and competitive funding.
Release of a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) is expected in September for approximately $165 million in non-competitive allocations. Non-Competitive Components consist of an estimated $138 million to local governments that received an entitlement allocation per the 2017 Federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) formula; and an estimated $16.6 million to 2017 non-entitlement local governments. Applications are excepted over-the-counter.
A Competitive Component consists of an estimated $11.5 million to 2017 non-entitlement local governments which will be awarded competitively.
Eligible activities for the formula allocations include Capitalized Reserves for Services connected to the preservation and creation of new permanent supportive housing.
Another NOFA is scheduled to be released in March, 2020 and applications will be due in May, 2020.
Supportive Housing Multifamily Housing Program (SHMHP) was recently created out of the Multifamily Housing Program (MHP), which was established by Chapter 637, Statutes of 1999 (SB 1121), which created Chapter 6.7 of Part 2 of Division 31 commencing with Section 50675, of the Health and Safety Code.
The SHMHP program provides funds “for permanent financing only, and may be used for new construction or rehabilitation of a multifamily rental housing development, or conversion of a nonresidential structure to a multifamily rental housing development. Eligible use of funds may include, but are not limited to, real property acquisition, refinancing to retain affordable rents, necessary on-site and off-site improvements, reasonable fees and consulting costs, capitalized reserves, facilities for childcare, after-school care, and social service facilities integrally linked to the restricted supportive housing units.
Eligible projects “must have a minimum of five supportive housing units, or a minimum of 40 percent of total units must be supportive housing units, whichever is greater, and must have associated supportive services for the intended target population living in the restricted units, pursuant to Health and Safety Code Section 50675.14.”
A NOFA was released in November, 2018 and applications were due in February, 2019. Awards were announced in July, 2019.
HCD will not release another set aside for the SHMHP. However, applications including permanent supportive housing projects may be submitted during the next round of funding for the Multifamily Housing Program (MHP), which is noted below.
Multifamily Housing Program (MHP), which was established by Chapter 637, Statutes of 1999 (SB 1121), which created Chapter 6.7 of Part 2 of Division 31 commencing with Section 50675, of the Health and Safety Code.
Funds are allocated as permanent financing for affordable multifamily rental and transitional new construction, acquisition, rehabilitation, and conversion housing developments.
Eligible applicants include local public entities, for-profit and nonprofit corporations, and limited partnerships in which an eligible applicant or an affiliate of an applicant is a general partner. Applicants or their principals must have successfully developed at least one affordable housing project.
HCD announced the availability of approximately $250 million in funding in a NOFA, which was released in June, 2019. Applications were due in August, 2019 and award announcements are expected in December, 2019.
HCD is scheduled to release another NOFA in January, 2020 and applications due in March, 2020. Awards are anticipated in June, 2020.
Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention Program (VHHP) is the result of the Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Bond Act of 2014.
The purpose of VHHP is to provide funding for acquisition, construction, rehabilitation, and preservation of affordable multifamily housing for veterans and their families to allow veterans to access and maintain housing stability. At least 50 percent of the funds awarded shall serve veteran households with extremely low incomes. Of those units targeted to extremely low-income veteran housing, 60 percent shall be permanent supportive housing units.
HCD will make approximately $75 million in funding available through a NOFA that will be released in November, 2019. Applications will be due in January, 2020 and awards are anticipated in May, 2020. HCD anticipates awarding approximately $300 million in subsequent years funding rounds.
Outcome Goals Over the next 5 Years (based on first NOFA award) is to fund 4,800 new veteran housing units including 2,880 to 3,300 permanent supportive housing units for homeless veterans. Of the permanent supportive housing units, 1,200 to 1,400 will be for chronically homeless veterans.
1. Start at the Top
Governor-appointed Homeless and Supportive Housing Advisory Task Force needs to publicly commit to building upon the initial two strategic steps noted above by
• convening appropriate state and local leaders, and
• being willing to drive innovation and accountability.
The Task Force, as an advisory council to the Governor, can harness public and private resources to build upon the innovations of permanent supportive housing that have been demonstrated to be effective in various communities throughout the state. The Task Force has the ability to create the urgency necessary to achieve a state-wide strategy to end chronic homelessness in California by forging partnerships between public and private entities to help scale permanent supportive housing developments. Bold and decisive action is needed.