California Legislation and Homelessness Update
Six Bills Concerning Homelessness will be Heard by Senate Appropriations Committee on August 16th
The California State Legislature is currently on summer recess. Both the Assembly and the Senate are slated to reconvene on Monday, August 16th. The Senate Appropriations Committee has scheduled a hearing on the 16th beginning at 9 am that involves the following six bills concerning homelessness:
- AB 362 Homeless shelters: safety regulations.
- AB 977 Homelessness program data reporting: Homeless Management Information System.
- AB 27 Homeless children and youths and unaccompanied youths: reporting.
- AB 1220 Homelessness: California Interagency Council on Homelessness.
- AB 816 Homelessness:Housing Trust Fund: housing projects.
- AB 369 Medi-Cal services: persons experiencing homelessness.
Highlights from each bill follow. To read the entire bill click on the bill number and title.
This bill would require each city or county to conduct at least one announced or unannounced inspection of each homeless shelter, as defined, within its jurisdiction every year. The bill would require a city or county that receives a complaint from an occupant of a homeless shelter, or an agent of an occupant, alleging that a homeless shelter is substandard to inspect the homeless shelter, as specified.
The bill would require a city or county that determines that a homeless shelter is substandard to issue a notice to correct the violation to the owner or operator of the homeless shelter within 10 business days of the inspection, or issue the notice to correct the violation immediately if the violation constitutes an imminent threat to the health and safety of the occupants of the homeless shelter.
The bill would authorize a city or county to issue an emergency order directing the owner or operator to take immediate action to rectify violations if the city determines that the violations are dangerous, hazardous, imminently detrimental to life or health, or otherwise render the homeless shelter unfit for human habitation. The bill would require a city or county to provide free, certified copies of any inspection report or citation issued pursuant to these provisions to a complaining occupant or their agent, as specified.
This bill would require, on or before January 1, 2023, that a grantee or entity operating specified state homelessness programs, including the No Place Like Home Program, as a condition of receiving state funds, to enter the collected data elements on the individuals and families it serves into its local Homeless Management Information System, unless otherwise exempted by state or federal law. The bill would require the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council to specify the format and disclosure frequency of the required data elements.
The bill would apply the data entry requirements to all new state homelessness programs that commence on or after July 1, 2021. The bill would require the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council to provide technical assistance to any grantee or entity that operates a program subject to the bill, if the grantee or entity does not already collect and enter into the local Homeless Management Information System the data elements required. The bill would require the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council to provide the aggregate data summaries collected under these provisions to specified state agencies or departments within 45 days of receipt, as specified.
This bill would specify that the statewide data storage system described above be known as the Homeless Data Integration System and would grant staff of the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council specified powers in regard to its operation. The bill would require that a continuum of care, as defined in federal law, provide collected data elements, including health information, as specified, to the Homeless Data Integration System, and would except health information and personal identifying information from disclosure to the public.
This bill would require a local educational agency to (A) ensure that each school within the local educational agency identifies all homeless children and youths and unaccompanied youths, as defined, enrolled at the school, (B) administer a housing questionnaire, as specified, for purposes of identifying homeless children and youths and unaccompanied youths, and (C) annually provide the housing questionnaire to all parents or guardians of pupils and unaccompanied youths of the local educational agency.
This bill would require a school district, charter school, or county office of education to create an internet web page or post on its internet website a list of the local educational agency liaisons for homeless children and youths and unaccompanied youths in that school district, charter school, or county office of education, respectively, the contact information for those liaisons, and specific information regarding the educational rights and resources available to persons experiencing homelessness. The bill would require a school to post on its internet website website, if the school has an internet website, the contact information for the liaison, if available.
The bill would also require, if a school has an employee or person under contract whose duties include assisting the liaison in completing the liaison’s duties under the federal act, the school to post on its internet website website, if the school has an internet website, the contact information for that employee or person under contract. The bill would require data collected by the department or by a local educational agency under these provisions to be used in accordance with all state and federal laws regarding pupil privacy and the collection and use of pupil data.
This bill would rename the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council to the California Interagency Council on Homelessness and remove authorization for the Secretary of Business, Consumer Services and Housing’s designee to serve as chair of the council. The bill would also change the composition of the council, as specified, including by creating and specifying the membership of an advisory committee to the council.
The bill would also provide that the appointed members of the council or committees serve at the pleasure of their appointing authority. The bill would also require that upon request of the council, a state agency or department that administers one or more state homelessness programs, as described, to participate in council workgroups, task forces, or other similar administrative structures and to provide to the council any relevant information regarding those state homelessness programs. The bill would also make conforming changes.
Existing state law designates the Department of Housing and Community Development as the state agency responsible for administering funds received by the state from the federal Housing Trust Fund. The department is required to administer the funds through existing or newly created programs that produce, preserve, rehabilitate, or support the operation of rental housing for extremely low income and very low income households, except that up to 10% of funding may be used to support home ownership for extremely low income and very low income households.
Existing law requires the department to collaborate with the California Housing Finance Agency to develop an allocation plan to demonstrate how the funds will be distributed, based on the priority housing needs identified in the state’s consolidated plan, and to convene a stakeholder process to inform the development of the plan. Existing law requires the allocation plan and program guidelines to prioritize projects based on enumerated factors such as the extent to which project rents are affordable. The department is required to submit this plan to the Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development and the Senate Transportation and Housing Committees 30 days after receipt of the federal funds.
This bill would require the department to prioritize funding for projects that serve people experiencing homelessness, to the extent that a sufficient number of projects exist. The bill would authorize the department to alter priority for funding to align eligibility for possible benefits, including Medi-Cal benefits that are intended to assist people experiencing homelessness.
This bill would require the department to implement a program of presumptive eligibility for persons experiencing homelessness, under which a person would receive full-scope Medi-Cal benefits without a share of cost. The bill would require the department to authorize an enrolled Medi-Cal provider to issue a temporary Medi-Cal benefits identification card to a person experiencing homelessness, and would prohibit the department from requiring a person experiencing homelessness to present a valid California driver’s license or identification card issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles to receive Medi-Cal services if the provider verifies the person’s eligibility.
This bill would authorize an enrolled Medi-Cal provider to make a presumptive eligibility determination for a person experiencing homelessness. The bill would
authorize an enrolled Medi-Cal provider to bill require the department to reimburse an enrolled Medi-Cal provider who bills the Medi-Cal program for Medi-Cal services provided off the premises to a person experiencing homelessness, as specified. The bill would require a Medi-Cal managed care plan to allow a beneficiary to seek those services and allow a provider to provide to reimburse a provider for providing those services, but would authorize a Medi-Cal managed care plan to establish reasonable requirements governing utilization protocols and network participation. If The bill would require a Medi-Cal managed care plan to reimburse a participating Medi-Cal provider providing covered services, without requiring the provider to obtain prior approval, as specified. The bill would authorize an enrolled Medi-Cal provider to refer a Medi-Cal beneficiary who is experiencing homelessness for specialist care and diagnostics.