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Bipartisan Proposal to Fund Efforts to Combat Homelessness and Assist California’s Low Income Residents Launches 2016 Legislative Year

January 5, 2016
Two news conferences on Monday, one in Los Angeles, and the other in Sacramento, on the bipartisan Senate budget proposal to tackle homelessness dominated the start of the Legislature’s New Year.
 
Headlined by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León and former Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, the press events rolled out a $2 billion bond proposal to build housing for mentally ill homeless to be funded by Proposition 63 (2004), the 1 percent tax levied on Californians earning more than $1 million annually to pay for mental health programs. The Senate leader projects that the “No Place Like Home” Initiative will fund 10,000 or more housing units throughout California.

The initiative seeks to help the homeless through supportive services and housing as well as at-risk low income Californians. Funding will come from Prop. 63 and $200 million from the state’s General Fund over four years.
 
There are an estimated 114,000 homeless Californians, approximately 22 percent of the nation’s entire homeless population. California’s homeless population has swelled as funding for affordable housing, mental health, drug treatment, job training and other services has shrunk with cities on the forefront of this crisis. The League board of directors in November adopted three strategic priorities for 2016, one of which focuses on improving housing affordability and addressing homelessness.
 
According to the Senate’s news release on Monday, this initiative repurposes Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act bond funds in an effort to leverage additional local, state and federal funding. In brief, the proposal would provide:
 
Housing
  • $2 billion bond to construct permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless persons with mental illness.
  • $200 million, over four years, to provide supportive housing in the shorter-term, rent subsidies, while the permanent housing is constructed or rehabilitated.   
  • Support for two special housing programs that will assist families:
    • The “Bringing Families Home” pilot project, a county matching grant program to reduce homelessness among families that are part of the child welfare system.
    • The CalWORKs Housing Support Program, which provides housing and support services for CalWORKs families in danger of homelessness.  
Income Support and Outreach
  • An increase in Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment (SSI/SSP) program grants which provide income support for the aged, blind, and disabled poor who cannot work. (Rates of homelessness are higher for persons with disabilities who cannot work; SSI/SSP is intended to help them make ends meet, and a large portion of grants usually goes toward rent.) These increases will assist about 1.3 million low-income Californians (72 percent with disabilities and 28 percent who are elderly).
  • A one-time investment to incentivize local governments to boost outreach efforts and advocacy to get more eligible poor people enrolled in the SSI/SSP program. (The federal government covers 72 percent of the total costs of the SSI/SSP program, so state and local benefits are multiplied significantly for each newly eligible recipient.)
Next Steps
 
The Senate initiative comes just days before Gov. Jerry Brown is set to release his proposed FY 2016-17 state budget proposal. The League will be thoroughly analyzing the details of No Place Like Home and Governor Brown’s budget. Budget analysis will be released late on Thursday. The No Place Like Home initiative will be reviewed by the League’s policy committees and board of directors. As additional information on this bipartisan proposal become available, the League will continue to keep members updated.
 


 
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