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AB-497 Housing and community development: emergency shelters.(2011-2012)

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AB497:v99#DOCUMENT


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2011–2012 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 497


Introduced  by  Assembly Member Wieckowski

February 15, 2011


An act to add Chapter 11.6 (commencing with Section 50810) to Part 2 of Division 31 of the Health and Safety Code, relating to housing and community development.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 497, as introduced, Wieckowski. Housing and community development: emergency shelters.
The federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987 establishes various programs providing a range of services to homeless people, including the Emergency Shelter Grants Program. Under that program, state and local governments are eligible to apply for federal grant funds for distribution to local government agencies or private nonprofit organizations responsible for direct implementation of eligible activities under the program. The federal Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Act of 2009 amended the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act by, among other things, recasting the Emergency Shelter Grants Program as the Emergency Solutions Grant Program, and shifting more resources available under that program toward homelessness prevention.
This bill would require the Department of Housing and Community Development to adopt regulations for the distribution of the unobligated balance of federal Emergency Solutions Grant Program funds received by the state, if any, taking into account specified considerations relating to homelessness.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Chapter 11.6 (commencing with Section 50810) is added to Part 2 of Division 31 of the Health and Safety Code, to read:
CHAPTER  11.6. Federal Emergency Solutions Grant Program

50810.
 (a) This section pertains to the unobligated balance, if any, of federal Emergency Solutions Grant Program funds received by the state.
(b) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(1) The federal Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Act of 2009 increases the emphasis on the prevention of homelessness and provides new incentives for grantees under the federal Emergency Solutions Grant Program to facilitate rapid transitions to housing for homeless individuals. The act also calls for these federal grant moneys to be used in coordination with federal Continuum of Care programs, which are generally administered at the local level. The Department of Housing and Community Development has used these funds, in this manner, effectively for many years, and the act does not prohibit this ongoing usage of the funds.
(2) The National Coalition for the Homeless estimates that over 1.3 million Californians are homeless. More than 133,000 men, women, and children are homeless in California on any given night. Over 390,000 California residents experience homelessness each year, meaning one in 95 Californians will experience homelessness at least once during the course of a year.
(3) Hate crimes and violence against the homeless have increased in California over the last few years. These acts of violence include beatings, rapes, and sexual assaults.
(4) The United States Conference of Mayors reports that 15 percent of homeless individuals are victims of domestic violence.
(5) The United States Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 107,000 veterans are homeless on any given night, and that over the course of a year, approximately twice that many veterans experience homelessness. Nearly 20 percent of the homeless population is made up of veterans.
(6) America’s homeless veterans have served in World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, Granada, Panama, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Iraq, among other places, and in drug eradication efforts in South America. Nearly half of homeless veterans served during the Vietnam era. Two-thirds served our country for at least three years, and one-third were stationed in a war zone.
(7) About 1.5 million other veterans are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing. Approximately 55,000 veterans are homeless in California. Based on historic trends, tens of thousands of the 300,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are likely to become homeless due to physical disabilities, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other service-related injuries.
(8) While 77 percent of homeless people nationwide are sheltered, only 30 percent of homeless Californians are sheltered.
(c) The Department of Housing and Community Development shall promulgate regulations for the distribution of the unobligated balance of federal Emergency Solutions Grant Program funds received by the state, if any, taking into consideration all of the following:
(1) The number and percentage of the state’s population that is homeless.
(2) The number and percentage of the state’s population living below the federal poverty level.
(3) The number and percentage of the state’s population living in overcrowded conditions.
(4) The relative affordability of housing in various communities.
(5) Locally based evaluations of projects in alignment with applicable Continuum of Care Plans.
(d) The department shall allocate the funds according to an equitable formula that takes into account the considerations listed in subdivision (c).