CVV News l June 27, 2023
Sacramento, CA – California is immersed in an unacceptable homelessness crisis that requires bold and urgent action. The budget trailer bills on homelessness funding (AB 129/SB 129) includes progress to bolster local collaboration and define roles and responsibilities for the Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention (HHAP) program, but it falls short of meeting the moment.
Counties applaud the inclusion of a collaborative framework and language requiring local governments to define some responsibilities as outlined in the AT HOME plan. Counties also appreciate the proposed $1 billion in one-time funding for 2023-24, but the budget agreement fails to provide the multi-year funding commitment and program streamlining required to make measurable progress.
All levels of government simply cannot address this complex issue without ongoing funding to plan and support an effective system. No state, county or city model on any issue of priority to all Californians is successful without the state first developing a comprehensive system with clearly defined roles and responsibilities and funding it appropriately.
The CSAC AT HOME plan, which rests on a foundation of sustainable multi-year funding and clear accountability, is designed to change the course of homelessness in our communities. The budget trailer bill makes important progress toward this goal but the AT HOME Coalition for Accountability continues to call for the bold action and ongoing investment required from our state partners to assist all levels of government in addressing the humanitarian crisis of our time.
New survey results show cities are making progress reducing homelessness, but the demand for housing and services is outpacing efforts
CVV News l May 31, 2023
Cities call on the state to invest $3 billion in ongoing state funding to prevent and reduce homelessness and jumpstart the construction of affordable housing
Hundreds of city officials from throughout the state gathered outside the Capitol Wednesday morning to unveil the results of a recent survey that shines a light on cities’ response to the statewide homelessness crisis. City leaders shared the barriers cities face when serving unhoused residents and called on the state to find a permanent home in the budget to prevent and reduce homelessness and boost the supply of affordable housing.
“The state’s homelessness crisis is so severe that the Governor has called in the National Guard, and several city leaders have declared emergencies in their jurisdictions. However, lasting progress will be out of reach without an ongoing source of state investment in local communities,” said Cal Cities Executive Director and CEO Carolyn Coleman. “City officials are doing their part to be a strong partner to support unhoused residents and keep Californians in their homes, and dedicated state funding is critical if we’re going to reverse this decades-in-the-making crisis.”
The survey, conducted by the League of California Cities last month, shows while cities are accelerating their efforts to prevent and reduce homelessness and boost affordable housing in their communities, the demand for housing and services is outpacing their efforts, straining capacity, and draining resources.
The survey found that nearly 85% of cities reported they have implemented programs to prevent and reduce homelessness. Eight in ten cities are spending general fund money to address homelessness.
“Cities like San Luis Obispo are innovating with on-the-ground programs to address homelessness,” said San Luis Obispo Mayor Erica Stewart. “In fiscal year 22-23, our city spent over $3 million to address homelessness and invest in preserving low-income housing units in the city. Cities need long-term funding from the state to be able to grow our investment in addressing the homelessness and housing crisis.”
Nearly 90% of cities that responded to the Cal Cities survey have fiscal concerns over their ability to provide existing homelessness services long term.
“Our community is committed to addressing the urgent crisis of homelessness and affordable housing, but our efforts alone cannot meet the overwhelming demand,” said Citrus Heights Mayor Porsche Middleton. “With ongoing funding, we can provide critical services and shelter to those in need and work towards a brighter future for all residents.”
When asked about the barriers to progress, survey respondents listed limited supportive housing options and a lack of ongoing funding as two of the top challenges.
“The addition of more affordable housing continues to be a vital part of Santa Ana’s efforts to end homelessness in our community, in addition to our Homeless Navigation Center already in place,” says Santa Ana Mayor Valerie Amezcua. “The allocation of $50.9 million in grant-related funding to address homelessness and 254 new permanent supportive housing units through multiple projects currently under construction demonstrates the city’s commitment towards alleviating the ongoing crisis.”
Cities are calling on $3 billion in ongoing funding to help cities prevent and reduce homelessness and boost affordable housing. According to the survey, cities would use increased state funding to provide additional supportive services, increase shelter space, accelerate affordable housing development, invest in homeless outreach teams, and expand rent subsidy programs.
The Lookout: Five Bills Addressing Homelessness Moving Through California’s Legislature
Aldon Thomas Stiles | California Black Media | June 16, 2022
(CBM) – The COVID pandemic intensified California’s housing affordability problem and forced the state to take urgent steps to secure emergency shelter for its unhoused population. Even in the wake of the global health crisis, the state is still reeling, facing increasing housing instability and a homelessness crisis that is enduring and more-and-more complex.
Approximately 160,000 Californians are unsheltered as affordable housing for so many continues to be difficult to come by.
This year, lawmakers introduced a number of bills to give unhoused Californians a safe and stable place to live.
Senate Bill (SB) 1335, authored by State Sen. Susan Eggman (D-Stockton), would disallow “housing-related discrimination” against individuals based on their credit history if they receive government housing subsidies.
SB 1335 includes people applying for a rental accommodation where there is a federal, state or local subsidy.
“Individuals using housing subsidies go into the housing market with a credit history and its stereotype attached to their applications,”
Jacqueline Ramirez, Policy Associate with Housing California stated in a letter of support for the bill.
“However, credit scores are an unnecessary tool due to the reliability of payment for the voucher program. As a result, despite having most of the rent covered by the government, those applying for housing subsidies face rejections based on credit histories,” Ramirez continued.
On June 2, SB 1335 was referred to the Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development. It is still being reviewed.
Senate Bill (SB) 1338, authored by State Sen. Tom Umberg (D-Orange County) and Eggman, establishes Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Courts, a program that provides individuals suffering from severe mental illness and going through the criminal trial process with court-ordered treatment in lieu of incarceration.
“The status quo on homelessness is not working. It’s time for a paradigm shift,” Umberg tweeted.
Disability Rights California (DRC), an advocacy organization, opposes the bill. DRC feels the bill does not go far enough to secure housing for mentally ill individuals who go through CARE Court.
“It does not guarantee housing as a solution to address homelessness; Evidence shows that adequately resourced intensive voluntary outpatient treatment is more effective than court-ordered treatment; It will
perpetuate institutional racism and worsen health disparities,” their opposition letter reads.
According to DRC, there are alternative solutions to this aspect of the housing crisis.
“CARE Court is not the appropriate tool for providing a path to wellness for Californians living with mental health disabilities who face homelessness, incarceration, hospitalization, conservatorship, and premature death,” the letter states. “Instead, California should invest in evidence-based practices that are proven to work and that will actually empower people living with mental health disabilities on their paths to recovery and allow them to retain full autonomy over their lives without the intrusion of a court.”
SB 1338 is being reviewed by the Assembly Committees on Judiciary and Health.
Senate Bill (SB) 903 would require the California Prison Oversight Board to examine the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) efforts to address the housing needs of persons recently released from custody, including those identified with serious mental health needs.
“If we are serious about getting more Californians off the street, we can no longer ignore the ‘prison-to-street’ pipeline,” State Senate Majority Leader Emeritus Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), SB 903’s author, said.
“In California, leaving incarceration is a ticket to homelessness and recidivism. With prison populations continuing to shrink due to the pandemic and recent reforms, we must do all we can as a state to help those leaving become productive, law-abiding members of society. Our justice system depends on it,” he continued.
According to a study from California Health Policy Strategies, L.L.C. (CHPS), in 2019, 27% of Californians in jail reported being unsheltered before they were arrested, and 70% percent of unsheltered individuals reported having been previously incarcerated.
About 28% reported being recently released from a correctional institution.
SB 903 is being reviewed by the Assembly Committee on Public Safety.
Assembly Bill (AB) 411, authored by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks), involves the Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention Bond Act of 2022, which provides affordable rental and transitional housing for low-income and homeless veterans.
The bill would authorize the issuance of up to $600 million in bonds for additional funding for the program.
“First authorized in 2014, this successful program has developed nearly 6,000 units thus far,” Irwin tweeted. “With an estimated 11,000 unhoused veterans living in California, we must continue this work.”
The Senate Committee on Government and Finance is reviewing AB 411.
Legislation introduced by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) Senate Bill (SB) 1336 would allow religious institutions and nonprofit colleges to build affordable housing on their properties with less difficulty.
According to housing advocates, the current process is needlessly complicated and expensive.
“SB 1336 will open up an enormous amount of land for affordable housing and help address our housing crisis,” Wiener tweeted.
SB 1336 is being reviewed by the Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development.
Both in California and across the United States, African Americans account for about 40% of the population, respectively.