Package of bills aims to reduce homelessness and ensure funds are used efficiently
Sacramento, CA–California lawmakers and advocates put forth a package of bills to tackle California’s homelessness crisis today. The proposals, many of which passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee last week, aim to increase funding, ensure accountability, and implement long-term, strategic plans to reduce homelessness.
“Our homelessness crisis was not created overnight, and it won’t be solved overnight,” said Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco), Chair of the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee. “Now is the time to make long-term investments and create smart plans that ensure we can meaningfully reduce homelessness and produce tangible results.”
California has the most people experiencing homelessness and the highest rate of unsheltered homeless individuals in the nation. Prior to COVID, more than 160,000 people experienced homelessness on any given night in California. That number has only increased over the course of the pandemic, as individuals who were already facing precarious financial situations have become more susceptible to falling into homelessness.
Homelessness has quickly risen to the number one issue concerning Californians, surpassing COVID, the economy, and wildfires. A recent poll by Build Affordable Faster California found that 83 percent of respondents felt homelessness was a “very serious problem,” and 15 percent felt it was a “somewhat serious problem.”
The state has made several one-time budget allocations to cities to reduce homelessness, but it is difficult for cities to implement long-term strategies with the uncertainty of one-time funding. Additionally, there is very little accountability around local efforts to reduce homelessness, and there is no comprehensive, statewide plan to confront this crisis.
The Assembly proposals seek to fill these gaps by requiring accountability, creating comprehensive, strategic plans, and making long-term investments in supportive housing. The measures that passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee last week include:
- Assembly Bill 71 authored by Assemblymember Luz Rivas (D-Arleta) establishes the Bring California Home Act, which would generate up to $1 billion annually to fund solutions to homelessness with accountability measures to ensure concrete outcomes.
- Assembly Bill 362 authored by Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton) sets basic habitability standards for shelters and requires local code enforcement to inspect shelters.
- Assembly Bill 816 authored by Assemblymember David Chiu institutes a legal mandate to reduce homelessness and creates a Housing and Homelessness Inspector General position to hold state and local governments accountable for their homelessness strategies.
- Assembly Bill 977 authored by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Woodland Hills) provides a more accurate picture of homelessness in California by requiring state programs to report data into local Homelessness Management Information Systems (HMIS).
- Assembly Bill 1220 authored by Assemblymember Luz Rivas gives the Homelessness Coordinating and Financing council more flexibility to carry out crucial operating functions.
Assemblymembers proposed several other measures to address our homelessness crisis that will move forward in early 2022. Those bills include:
- Assembly Bill 258 authored by Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua (D-Stockton) allows more people to access shelters by requiring state-funded, interim housing to be low-barrier shelters.
- Assembly Bill 328 authored by Assemblymember David Chiu redirects savings from prison closures to reentry housing programs for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
- Assembly Bill 411 authored by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks) authorizes $600 billion in bonds to build affordable housing and supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness.
The bills that passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee last week–AB 71, AB 362, AB 816, AB 977, and AB 1220–will move to the Assembly floor. AB 258, AB 328, and AB 411 will receive hearings in early 2022.
Assemblymember David Chiu (D–San Francisco) is the Chair of the Housing & Community Development Committee of the California State Assembly. He represents the 17th Assembly District, which encompasses eastern San Francisco. Learn more at: https://a17.asmdc.org/
Voices for Accountability and a Long-Term Plan to Address Homelessness
“I am happy to join with my colleagues in supporting this package of bills to help our unhoused neighbors. Homelessness touches every community in California and only by working together can we begin to effectuate change.” –Assemblymember Steve Bennett (D-Ventura)
“The Assembly is responding to the state’s Homelessness crisis with real solutions. I’m proud to co-author these important pieces of legislation as each bill delivers an urgent component of transformative change that aligns with Budget priorities. Together, we will continue to work on transparency, accountability and permanent funding models that can help local cities manage their growing needs. Ultimately, these large efforts and investments require urgent partnerships at the city, county, state and federal level to be successful and everyone needs to do their part – no more excuses, housing is a human right and the state of California has an opportunity to deliver on that promise.” –Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles)
“There is immense frustration in the Legislature and around the state with the lack of progress on homelessness. We need stronger oversight to hold local programs accountable and to ensure that the billions of dollars in new state funding is being spent in the most efficient manner possible. AB 977 will strengthen accountability, transparency, and data-driven policymaking, allowing us to better target resources and make real progress on our homelessness crisis.” –Assemblymember Gabriel (D-Woodland Hills)
“California has the largest population of veterans in the U.S., but a disproportional share of its homeless veterans. The number of homeless veterans in California has been significantly reduced since 2012, but veterans are still at higher risk of being unsheltered and their numbers are starting to rise again. The reduction in veteran homelessness was accomplished through programs like the Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention Program, which has housed thousands of veterans and their families since it was approved by voters in 2014. AB 411 would keep this effective program going, and ensure the state’s continued investment in keeping veterans housed.” –Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks)
“I applaud the efforts of my colleagues and am eager to co-author this package of legislation to address California’s worsening homelessness crisis. It is shameful that so many are living on our streets. This state has the resources now to properly address the scale of the problem. I am pleased that we are finally making the issue of homelessness a top priority.” –Assemblymember Kevin Mullin (D-South San Francisco)
“There is an urgent need for enforceable health and safety standards in our homeless shelters. It is essential to protect our homeless residents. Many of the people who stay in shelters are: seniors, veterans, women, and disabled. They often suffer from serious physical and mental health conditions. Although shelters are a temporary residence, shelters must be clean, rodent free and have adequate safety standards. I am honored to be part of a package of legislative solutions that will make a difference to solve homelessness in California.” –Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton)
“I want to thank Assemblymember Chiu for his leadership in prioritizing ABs 71 and 1220 in the Assembly’s response to address homelessness in California. Years of rising housing costs, a lack of accountability, and unfocused spending have created this crisis that has been further exacerbated by the pandemic. The bills in this homelessness package prove the Assembly is willing to do what it takes to combat this brewing catastrophe head on. Californians demand action from their government on homelessness, and we as legislators are ready to do our part to deliver meaningful and long-term solutions to homelessness with this legislative package.” –Assemblywoman Luz Rivas (D-Arleta)
“COVID-19 has only made the growing homelessness crisis more dire. As the representative of the epicenter of homelessness in our state, Skid Row, it is absolutely critical that we act with a sense of urgency and push for radical change. We cannot keep doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. We must provide urgent housing and life-saving services to our unhoused population with ironclad accountability. This package of bills will bring us closer to solving homelessness in California.” –Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles)
“I am proud to be a co-author of the California Assembly Homelessness legislation package. Each of these bills ensures our state is taking an essential step forward in addressing California’s homelessness issue. For too long, California has not met the needs of unsheltered residents. Now is the time to secure a long-term funding source and additional tools to address the homelessness crisis.” –Assemblymember Chris Ward (D-San Diego)
“Homelessness in California is an issue that needs our constant focus and attention, year-in and year-out. We cannot expect to solve this overnight, but through our continued dedication to lowering the barriers to temporary housing, increasing accessibility and affordability, providing mental health services, and expanding opportunities for families, we can push closer toward ending this crisis once and for all. I remain committed to seeking out the best solutions for all Californians and look forward to advancing my AB 258 in January to help increase access to our state’s shelters.” –Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua (D-Stockton)
“The Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) is proud to support the Assembly’s Homelessness Bill Package and applauds the authors for putting forth a robust package of bills, which aim to address homelessness on several fronts: focusing on data-driven strategies, establishing new accountability measures, dedicating ongoing funding, and promoting bold equity-driven strategies. This package promotes the comprehensive strategies the Legislative Analyst’s Office and the Governor’s Council on Regional Homeless Advisors has been calling for. CSH is proud to be a co-sponsor of three bills outlined in the package—AB 71, AB 328, and AB 816—and we look forward to working collaboratively with legislators to work toward a thoughtful and unified statewide approach to homelessness.” –Sharon Rapport, Corporation for Supportive Housing Director of California State Policy
“The Steinberg Institute is proud to co-sponsor AB 71 and AB 816. Homelessness in California is voters’ #1 issue and one we know can be addressed with innovative, bold measures. AB 71 secures ongoing funding for localities’ proven solutions, while AB 816 holds them accountable for ending homelessness – a critical and overdue step.” –Julie Snyder, Steinberg Institute Government Affairs Director
“Voters identify homelessness as a top priority, and Assembly leadership has responded to the urgent call for systemic change by delivering a bold and comprehensive Homelessness Package that will positively impact the lives of thousands and help restore vitality to our underserved communities. From ongoing funding to structural reform and accountability, this package will put us on the path towards the transformative change we need in California. Housing California applauds the Assembly for this bold package, and we look forward to working with the Legislature and Governor to see these bills passed and signed into law.” –Chris Martin, Housing California Policy Director