Today's Law As Amended


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AB-998 Homelessness: Interagency Council on Homelessness.(2013-2014)



As Amends the Law Today


SECTION 1.
 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) California has the highest rate of homelessness and the highest ratio of homeless people per resident, with 135,000 people sleeping on the streets or in shelters on any given night.
(b) Homelessness is traumatic for those who suffer it, often leading to separated families, exacerbation of health conditions, a rise in avoidable emergency room use, social and academic delays among children, and greater likelihood of incarceration.
(c) Many people who lack permanent shelter and the ability to access regular support ricochet through separate and expensive public systems: overburdened corrections systems, overcrowded hospital emergency rooms, mental health programs, substance abuse treatment and detox facilities, shelters, and emergency housing. As a result, people experiencing chronic homelessness use a disproportionate share of state and local services.
(d) Innovative approaches across the nation and within California show promise for reducing homelessness and the resulting impact on state services.
(e) Changing the system and reducing homelessness requires coordination and cooperation among federal, state, and local governments, as well as private sector organizations.
(f) Creation of a statewide coordinating council is an important and effective tool in supporting initiatives to end homelessness in California.
(g) Creation of a statewide coordinating council will stem avoidable costs of maintaining the number of homeless persons and will, therefore, result in reducing avoidable costs to multiple programs.
(h) Homelessness affects multiple systems in California at a very high public cost, including housing, mental health and substance abuse, education, corrections, foster care, health care, and veterans services. Reducing homelessness would produce cost savings for all these systems. The state adopted a Ten-Year Chronic Homelessness Action Plan in February 2010, but has no mechanism in place to assess progress or hold state agencies accountable to the action steps in the plan. A codified, structured interagency council on homelessness would help fill this gap.
(i) In November 2005, Governor Schwarzenegger created the Governor’s Chronic Homelessness Initiative, which included plans to form an interagency coordinating council to reduce homelessness. The Business, Transportation and Housing Agency’s 2005–10 Consolidated Plan further indicates the importance of an interagency council on homelessness. Despite these intentions, a council has not met regularly or publicly since the Governor adopted his Chronic Homelessness Initiative.
(j) California must give priority to developing consolidated, coordinated, and cooperative approaches to issues of homelessness, including, but not limited to, specific issues addressing homeless youth, families, veterans, parolees, victims of domestic violence, people with mental health and substance use disorders, people experiencing chronic homelessness, seniors, and disabled people.
(k) Working within current costs, a revitalized Interagency Council on Homelessness will reduce duplication of efforts and the costs of homelessness and will redirect resources to more effective approaches, developing a more integrated system and eliminating fragmentation. Other states have created interagency councils without initial investment of resources.
(l) California is not accessing all of the federal funds for homelessness that it should due to a lack of coordination among some agencies. For example, 30 other states apply for funds through the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act programs. Application for these funds could total millions of dollars, and requires state agency collaboration.

SEC. 2.

 Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 8260) is added to Division 8 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read:

CHAPTER  7. California Interagency Council on Homelessness
8260.
 For purposes of this chapter, the following definitions shall apply:
(a) “Council” means the California Interagency Council on Homelessness.
(b) “Stakeholder organization” means a nonprofit or faith-based organization whose primary mission is to prevent or end homelessness, to provide services or health care to people who are homeless, or to create housing for people who are homeless.
8261.
 (a) There is hereby created in state government the California Interagency Council on Homelessness with a mission to construct cross-agency and community cooperation in responding to homelessness, and to identify and apply for increased federal funding to respond to homelessness.
(b) The Governor shall designate a lead agency or representative from the Governor’s staff to direct the work of the council.
(c) The council shall seek all available federal funding, including, but not limited to, grant and technical assistance funds under the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. Sec. 11301 et seq.), for purposes of funding the council and its activities.
(d) Membership of the council shall include all of the following:
(1) At least one representative with decisionmaking authority from each of the following:
(A) The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
(B) The Department of Housing and Community Development.
(C) The California Health and Human Services Agency.
(D) The State Department of Social Services.
(E) The Department of Veterans Affairs.
(2) Two representatives among local law enforcement, county or city government, or organizations representing these interests. One representative appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules, and one representative appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly.
(3) Representatives of two stakeholder organizations, with one to be appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly and the other to be appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules.
(4) Two individuals who have experienced homelessness, with one to be appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly and the other to be appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules.
(e) The council may, at its discretion, invite stakeholders, individuals who have experienced homelessness, members of philanthropic communities, and experts to participate in meetings or provide information to the council.
(f) The Governor shall appoint a chairperson and vice chairperson from among, or in addition to, the members of the council specified in subdivision (d). Within current costs, the council may establish working groups, task forces, or other structures from within its membership or with outside members to assist it in its work. Working groups, task forces, or other structures established by the council shall determine their own meeting schedules.
(g) Members of the council shall serve without compensation, except that consumer representatives shall receive minimal compensation if private funds are available. State funds shall not be used to compensate members of the council.
8262.
 (a) The council shall hold public meetings at least once every quarter.
(b) The council may, but is not required to, do all of the following:
(1) Act as the lead for coordinating and planning the state’s response to homelessness, including identifying federal funding sources and determining how the state should apply for these resources.
(2) Engage or accept the services of agency personnel and nonprofit organizations, or employ council staff to operate, manage, or conduct the business of the council, only if these services are provided by private, philanthropic, or other nonstate funding resources available for that purpose or the Legislature makes a future appropriation for that purpose.
8263.
 Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, the council shall operate within the current budget of each department and agency represented. Each department and agency shall cooperate with the council and furnish it with information and assistance that is necessary or useful to further the purposes of this chapter.