CSAC Bulletin Article

CSAC Responds to Homelessness/Housing Recommendations from Governor’s Council

January 16, 2020

CSAC responded to recommendations from Governor Newsom’s Council of Regional Homeless Advisors (the Council) calling for policy changes to reduce and prevent homelessness. Thanks to close coordination and ongoing advocacy around the homelessness issue, many recommendations in the report reflect CSAC positions like increased local flexibility of funding, strengthening Board and Care, leveraging CalAIM, and enhancing SSI/SSP.

“Counties appreciate the leadership of the Governor and the Council of Regional Homeless Advisors,” said CSAC Executive Director Graham Knaus. “These recommendations are big and bold steps  towards tackling the crisis of our time, homelessness.”

The recommendations build upon County priorities represented in Governor Newsom’s $1.4 billion homelessness/healthcare budget package , including a new statewide flexible housing pool, repurposing state properties for shelters, applying emergency trailers and infrastructure for housing, and implementing the new Medi-Cal Healthier California for All initiative (formerly known as CalAIM).

Additionally, CSAC is working to gain additional flexibility within the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA, or Proposition 63 of 2004) and protect county fiscal stability and successful services through the state’s CalAIM Medi-Cal proposal. While CSAC supports an increase in emergency housing and shelter capacity along with policy reforms, solutions must balance responsibilities with resources, authority and accountability to ensure long- term success.

The Interim Report’s most controversial component is a legally-enforceable mandate to reduce homelessness, instituted via Constitutional Amendment, to be placed on the November 2020 ballot. State and local governments would be required to reduce barriers to the creation of interim and permanent housing, including rapid approval and siting of interim housing, permanent housing, supportive services and targeted prevention to reduce homelessness.

“A legally enforceable mandate can only work with clarity of who’s obligated to do what and what new sustainable resources will fund it,” said CSAC Executive Director Graham Knaus. “Counties are prepared to engage in tough conversations necessary to collaboratively charge ahead thoughtfully and aggressively to make sustainable progress on homelessness.”

Governor Newsom suggested a pilot program to test the mandate idea and Council Co-Chairs, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, along with Council Member and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf each said they would support their cities and counties participating in such a pilot. Ridley-Thomas presented a motion to the rest of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to adopt the main tenants of the Council’s report. The county will now come up with recommendations within 60 days to implement a pilot program.

California’s Counties will continue to make homelessness a priority at every level. Stay tuned for future updates as CSAC works with the Governor and the Legislature to explore the policy areas broached in the 2020-21 budget and the Council report. For specific questions, please contact Darby Kernan

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