Housing and Homelessness

Funding Continums of Care Throughout California

The State legislature is continuing to make housing a priority throughout the state as recently evidenced by the 2018 Housing Package, which increases the funding originally requested in the budget, and also takes strides to make the process of solving for the homelessness crisis more efficient and streamlined.

The Housing and Homelessness package, expected to be adopted June 15, includes $500 million in emergency block grants, which is twice the amount that was originally expected after negotiations and revisions in May 2018. The General Fund block grants are for emergency aid to local governments responding to the homelessness crisis and will include $250 million for Continuums of Care (CoCs), $150 million in direct allocations to cities or counties with populations over 330 thousand, and $100 million allocated based on an area’s homeless population, also toward CoCs.

The choice to fund homelessness programs though CoCs will ensure funding is funneled toward local strategic efforts that comprehensively attempt to work to end the homeless crises specific to those communities. CoCs develop long-term strategic plans and manage year-round efforts to address the needs of the homeless in their specific geographic areas. Recognizing there are a wide variety of causes for homelessness, and thus a wide variety of solutions for homelessness, these continuums provide tailored solutions for their communities. Because of the way CoCs are designed, this emergency funding will be used efficiently as possible at the local level.

In addition to one-time grants for CoCs, the package also moves the Homeless Coordinating Council to the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency, and includes $500 thousand to fund the newly housed council, dedicating one third of its staff to homeless youth. It also provides $370 thousand from the Housing for Veterans Fund for two positions to execute loan closings and mitigate litigation costs related to the Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention Program.

The package continues to prioritize ensuring the sale of Department of Transportation (Caltrans) surplus property is maintained as affordable housing. This proposal supports Caltrans administration of the "Roberti Act" Affordable Sales Program on the State Route 710 corridor. Finally, the package provides $50 thousand for Gateway Cities Council of Governments for a housing strategy assessment.

Dissecting Brown’s Budget

Image courtesy of http://calbudgetcenter.org/

Image courtesy of http://calbudgetcenter.org/

Governor Brown and the California legislature approved a $122.5 billion budget to fund state operations for 2016-17. The budget allocates $400 million for affordable housing construction, increases preschool/child care funding by $500 million, increases reserves by $2 billion, invests $200 million in college readiness programs, and redirects $2 billion in Proposition 63 mental health funds to provide housing for mentally ill homeless people.

Putting an extra $2 billion into the rainy day fund suggests that state lawmakers are weary about a looming recession. There was a notable focus on alleviating poverty and income inequality in this year’s budget process. Brown and lawmakers failed to agree on a spending plan from the state’s greenhouse gas reduction fund, also known as the cap-and-trade fund, and failed to reach a deal on funding to fix crumbling roads and highways, which they have labeled as a top priority for several years.

To learn more about how the state budget impacts your local community and how you can make the most of it, contact RSG.

Written by Jeff Khau, a Senior Analyst at RSG


Budget Battle

California Governor Jerry Brown recently released the 2016-2017 budget revision, which did not include an allocation from the state surplus for affordable housing purposes.  While the budget proposal refers to several initiatives that could ease the affordable housing crisis, they are not part of the budget allocation that would increase the amount of money available to fund housing. 

The state does not control land use decisions, but it can help to subsidize the development of affordable units. About 3 percent of homes and 11 percent of rental units are affordable through legally binding restrictions, and about two-thirds of the affordable units get state funding through tax credits or subsidies from state departments. While demand for low-income housing has increased, lengthy local land use and review processes have provided less than half of the affordable housing needed.

Thus, the state’s fiscal investment in housing must be maximized to speed up construction while lowering costs and avoiding delays. The state needs to target new and existing housing resources to support state policies and objectives.

June 15 is the deadline for the state legislature to pass the budget bill. We believe that state assembly members must invest $1.3 billion of the state's budget surplus for affordable housing.  Let’s reach them by mail, e-mail, social media and in person. California’s future depends on it.

Written by Tara Matthews, a Principal at RSG