Joint Letter to Help End Homelessness in California
Legislative Action Impacting Homelessness
Jamboree signed its name to the following letter compiled by CSH and Housing California that’s aimed at helping to end chronic homelessness in California with initiatives and budget allocations focused on rapid re-housing and other permanent supportive housing strategies proven to best serve the chronically homeless.
Assembly members asked to make critical investments
The undersigned are writing to express our support for budget proposals and legislation that will help end homelessness for thousands of individuals and families in California. By investing in evidence-based models that link people to permanent housing and services, we can make significant headway in reducing the number of people living on the streets.
Over 115,000 people experience homelessness at any given point-in-time in California, in large part because California has the highest poverty rate in the nation when factoring in housing costs. Two to three times this number of people may experience homelessness during a single year. Homelessness is on the rise in California, with an 18% rise in Los Angeles since 2013. Homelessness is becoming a statewide crisis, as communities across the State witness growing rates of homelessness.
Study after study demonstrates homelessness is expensive. A 2009 Los Angeles study found homeless residents incurred, on average, $2,897 per month to our public systems. Worse still, living with homelessness has poor results, including a 25-30 year reduction in life expectancy when compared to housed counterparts. In contrast, action yields positive results. Costs decrease significantly when moving people from homelessness to housing, typically well beyond the costs of the housing and services.
Now is the time to make critical investments in interventions we know work to move people from the streets, tent encampments, and shelters into permanent, safe, and affordable homes. These interventions include the following:
- Rapid rehousing, which connects families and individuals experiencing homelessness to permanent housing through a tailored package of assistance that includes time-limited financial assistance and targeted supportive services.
- Supportive housing for people with significant barriers to housing stability, which pairs an affordable home with intensive services to improve housing retention, streamline healthcare costs, reduce recidivism, and reconnect formerly homeless individuals and families with a support structure.
The proposals detailed below are complementary in serving the needs of the diverse community experiencing homelessness and we, therefore, ask you for your strong support of legislation, and communicating your support to Budget Conference Committee members.
No Place Like Home Initiative
Senate President pro tempore Kevin de Leon authored the “No Place Like Home” Initiative comprised of five budget proposals:
$2 billion bond to construct supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness and mental illness. Increased revenues for the Mental Health Services Act (Proposition 63) will pay debt service on the bond.
$200 million in housing subsidies to house homeless individuals and families. Funding would stimulate partnership between counties and the State in immediately offering supportive housing opportunities.
Bringing Families Home is a $10 million pilot program to provide supportive housing and rapid rehousing to homeless child welfare involved families. When the only barrier to reunification is housing instability, Bringing Families Home will provide the assistance necessary to stabilize parents and reunite families.
A $15 million increase in funding for the CalWORKs Housing Support Program will allow the program to operate in almost every county. CalWORKS HSP is an extremely effective rapid rehousing program providing housing supports to CalWORKs involved families experiencing or at-risk of homelessness.
Increase in Supplemental Security Income and State Supplementary Payment (SSI/SSP) and outreach program grants and provide funding to incentivize local governments to boost outreach efforts to enroll eligible people onto SSI/SSP. SSI allows homeless people who are elderly or disabled to access housing now out of their reach, and would stretch funding for operating supportive housing projects housing tenants on SSI.
Assembly Housing Budget Package
A team of 11 Assemblymembers drafted the Housing Package, led by Assemblymembers David Chiu and Tony Thurmond. The Assembly Housing Budget Package proposes making one-time general fund allocations to the following programs that combat homelessness:
Multifamily Housing Program-Supportive Housing to fund the construction, rehabilitation, and preservation of supportive housing. Two-thirds of homeless people do not have a diagnosis of mental illness. For this population, the Assembly proposal complements the revenue bond in “No Place Like Home.”
Emergency Solutions Grants that could fund rapid rehousing programs in every county in California and end homelessness for 3,500 families, individuals, and youth not eligible for CalWORKs Housing. The Emergency Solutions Grants may be used to fund rapid rehousing, emergency shelters, outreach, and other investments that allow people experiencing homelessness to access permanent housing.
The Emergency Solutions Grants would also fund programs to end homelessness for LGBTQ Californians. While LGBTQ identified people make up 10% of the general population, nearly 40% of all youth experiencing homelessness and 29% of the general homeless population identify as LGBTQ and face a unique set of challenges in trying to overcome homelessness.
Medi-Cal Housing Program
$60 million would create a “Medi-Cal Housing Program” to fund grants to counties to provide rental assistance to about 1,000 homeless Californians, which would be matched with services funding available under Whole Person Care pilots or the Health Home Program. The program would create supportive housing opportunities to homeless beneficiaries who incur high Medi-Cal costs, while creating local-State-federal partnerships in ending homelessness. Based on 25 years of data and programs in other states, rental assistance matched with Medi-Cal services will result in significant decreases in medical costs, yielding savings to the State. By identifying and reinvesting savings generated from decreased costs of care, the Program can become self-sustaining.
Assembly Bill 2821
AB 2821 (Chiu) similarly would create a “Medi-Cal Housing Program.” The bill is proceeding concurrently through the Legislative process as the budget request. This bill passed the Assembly on June 2.
Senate Bill 1380
SB 1380 (Mitchell) would promote coordination and consistency among State-funded programs addressing homelessness. It would ensure programs the State funds would use evidence-based approaches to ending homelessness, including Housing First. It would also create a coordinating council that would make sure agencies affected by homelessness collaborate toward common purposes and goals. Most other states have interagency or coordinating councils, and these councils are highly impactful in attracting greater federal resources, building bridges between local and State efforts, and using existing resources more effectively. This bill passed the Senate on May 31.
States across the nation are reducing homelessness and some are on their way to ending chronic and veteran homelessness. These states demonstrate that ending homelessness requires local, State, and federal investment and commitment. The above proposals represent one-time investments that are crucial to California in making meaningful progress towards eliminating homelessness statewide.
We ask you to communicate your support for these budget proposals to Budget Conferees, and to support AB 2821 and SB 1380. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Joe Boniwell, Housing California, at (916) 447-0503, ext. 1108, or Sharon Rapport, CSH, at (323) 243-7424. We look forward to working with you to end the crisis of homelessness for thousands of Californians.
Download a complete list of the four dozen leading organizations statewide that support this with Signatures to the Legislative Action Letter Impacting Homelessness in California.