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AB-1921 CalWORKs: housing assistance.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 02/27/2018 09:00 PM
AB1921:v98#DOCUMENT

Revised  March 27, 2018
Amended  IN  Assembly  February 27, 2018

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 1921


Introduced by Assembly Member Maienschein Assembly Members Maienschein and Santiago
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Mathis and Voepel, Voepel, Acosta, Eduardo Garcia, Jones-Sawyer, Lackey, Rodriguez, and Steinorth)

January 24, 2018


An act to amend Section 11450 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to CalWORKs.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1921, as amended, Maienschein. CalWORKs: housing assistance.
Existing law establishes the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program under which, through a combination of federal, state, and county funds, each county provides cash assistance and other benefits to qualified low-income families.
As part of the CalWORKs program, a homeless family that has used all available liquid resources in excess of $100 is eligible for homeless assistance benefits to pay the costs of temporary shelter if the family is eligible for aid under the CalWORKs program. Under existing law, eligibility for temporary shelter assistance is limited to one period of up to 16 consecutive calendar days every 12 months, except as specified. Existing law provides that a break in the consecutive use of the benefit constitutes an exhaustion of the temporary benefit for that 12-month period.
This bill would instead provide that the temporary shelter assistance is limited to 16 cumulative calendar days every 12 months, months for one episode in which the family has not secured permanent housing, except as specified.
Under existing law, if a family is eligible for homeless assistance payments based on domestic violence that is verified by a sworn statement by the victim, the temporary assistance is limited to 2 periods of not more than 16 consecutive calendar days.
This bill would instead provide that the temporary assistance is limited to 2 periods of not more than 16 cumulative calendar days.
The CalWORKs program also provides a nonrecurring special needs benefit for permanent housing assistance to pay for last month’s rent and security deposits, up to 2 months rent arrearages, or standard costs for of deposits for utilities, as specified. Existing law requires these payments to be made to the providers of housing or utilities payments to providers for temporary shelter and permanent housing and utilities to be made on behalf of the families requesting these payments. Existing law prohibits payments from being made to a housing provider unless it is a commercial establishment, shelter, or person in the business of renting properties who has a history of renting properties.
This bill would additionally authorize payments to a housing provider with which the families requesting assistance have executed a valid lease, sublease, or shared housing agreement. The bill would also delete the requirement that a person in the business of renting property properties have a history of renting properties.
Because this bill would increase the administrative duties of counties, it would impose a state-mandated local program.
This bill would authorize the State Department of Social Services to implement these provisions through an all-county letter or similar instruction from the Director of Social Services until final regulations are adopted, and would require the department to adopt final regulations on or before July 1, 2019.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to the statutory provisions noted above.
Existing law continuously appropriates moneys from the General Fund to defray a portion of county costs under the CalWORKs program.
This bill would, instead, provide that the continuous appropriation would not be made for purposes of implementing the bill.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

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


SECTION 1.

 Section 11450 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

11450.
 (a) (1) (A) Aid shall be paid for each needy family, which shall include all eligible brothers and sisters of each eligible applicant or recipient child and the parents of the children, but shall not include unborn children, or recipients of aid under Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 12000), qualified for aid under this chapter. In determining the amount of aid paid, and notwithstanding the minimum basic standards of adequate care specified in Section 11452, the family’s income, exclusive of any amounts considered exempt as income or paid pursuant to subdivision (e) or Section 11453.1, determined for the prospective semiannual period pursuant to Sections 11265.1, 11265.2, and 11265.3, and then calculated pursuant to Section 11451.5, shall be deducted from the sum specified in the following table, as adjusted for cost-of-living increases pursuant to Section 11453 and paragraph (2). In no case shall the amount of aid paid for each month exceed the sum specified in the following table, as adjusted for cost-of-living increases pursuant to Section 11453 and paragraph (2), plus any special needs, as specified in subdivisions (c), (e), and (f):
Number of
 eligible needy
persons in
the same home
Maximum
aid
 1 ........................
$  326
 2 ........................
   535
 3 ........................
   663
 4 ........................
   788
 5 ........................
   899
 6 ........................
 1,010
 7 ........................
 1,109
 8 ........................
 1,209
 9 ........................
 1,306
10 or more ........................
 1,403
(B) If, when, and during those times that the United States government increases or decreases its contributions in assistance of needy children in this state above or below the amount paid on July 1, 1972, the amounts specified in the above table shall be increased or decreased by an amount equal to that increase or decrease by the United States government, provided that no increase or decrease shall be subject to subsequent adjustment pursuant to Section 11453.
(2) The sums specified in paragraph (1) shall not be adjusted for cost of living for the 1990–91, 1991–92, 1992–93, 1993–94, 1994–95, 1995–96, 1996–97, and 1997–98 fiscal years, and through October 31, 1998, nor shall that amount be included in the base for calculating any cost-of-living increases for any fiscal year thereafter. Elimination of the cost-of-living adjustment pursuant to this paragraph shall satisfy the requirements of former Section 11453.05, and no further reduction shall be made pursuant to that section.
(b) (1) When the family does not include a needy child qualified for aid under this chapter, aid shall be paid to a pregnant child who is 18 years of age or younger at any time after verification of pregnancy, in the amount that would otherwise be paid to one person, as specified in subdivision (a), if the child and her child, if born, would have qualified for aid under this chapter. Verification of pregnancy shall be required as a condition of eligibility for aid under this subdivision.
(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), when the family does not include a needy child qualified for aid under this chapter, aid shall be paid to a pregnant woman for the month in which the birth is anticipated and for the six-month period immediately prior to the month in which the birth is anticipated, in the amount that would otherwise be paid to one person, as specified in subdivision (a), if the woman and child, if born, would have qualified for aid under this chapter. Verification of pregnancy shall be required as a condition of eligibility for aid under this subdivision.
(3) Paragraph (1) shall apply only when the Cal-Learn Program is operative.
(c) The amount of forty-seven dollars ($47) per month shall be paid to pregnant women qualified for aid under subdivision (a) or (b) to meet special needs resulting from pregnancy if the woman and child, if born, would have qualified for aid under this chapter. County welfare departments shall refer all recipients of aid under this subdivision to a local provider of the California Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children program. Children. If that payment to pregnant women qualified for aid under subdivision (a) is considered income under federal law in the first five months of pregnancy, payments under this subdivision shall not apply to persons eligible under subdivision (a), except for the month in which birth is anticipated and for the three-month period immediately prior to the month in which delivery is anticipated, if the woman and child, if born, would have qualified for aid under this chapter.
(d) For children receiving AFDC-FC under this chapter, there shall be paid, exclusive of any amount considered exempt as income, an amount of aid each month that, when added to the child’s income, is equal to the rate specified in Section 11460, 11461, 11462, 11462.1, or 11463. In addition, the child shall be eligible for special needs, as specified in departmental regulations.
(e) In addition to the amounts payable under subdivision (a) and Section 11453.1, a family shall be entitled to receive an allowance for recurring special needs not common to a majority of recipients. These recurring special needs shall include, but not be limited to, special diets upon the recommendation of a physician for circumstances other than pregnancy, and unusual costs of transportation, laundry, housekeeping services, telephone, and utilities. The recurring special needs allowance for each family per month shall not exceed that amount resulting from multiplying the sum of ten dollars ($10) by the number of recipients in the family who are eligible for assistance.
(f) After a family has used all available liquid resources, both exempt and nonexempt, in excess of one hundred dollars ($100), with the exception of funds deposited in a restricted account described in subdivision (a) of Section 11155.2, the family shall also be entitled to receive an allowance for nonrecurring special needs.
(1) An allowance for nonrecurring special needs shall be granted for replacement of clothing and household equipment and for emergency housing needs other than those needs addressed by paragraph (2). These needs shall be caused by sudden and unusual circumstances beyond the control of the needy family. The department shall establish the allowance for each of the nonrecurring special needs items. The sum of all nonrecurring special needs provided by this subdivision shall not exceed six hundred dollars ($600) per event.
(2) (A) (i) Homeless assistance is available to a homeless family seeking shelter when the family is eligible for aid under this chapter.
(ii) Homeless assistance for temporary shelter is also available to homeless families that are apparently eligible for aid under this chapter. Apparent eligibility exists when evidence presented by the applicant, or that is otherwise available to the county welfare department, and the information provided on the application documents indicate that there would be eligibility for aid under this chapter if the evidence and information were verified. However, an alien applicant who does not provide verification of his or her eligible alien status, or a woman with no eligible children who does not provide medical verification of pregnancy, is not apparently eligible for purposes of this section.
(iii) Homeless assistance for temporary shelter is also available to homeless families that would be eligible for aid under this chapter but for the fact that the only child or children in the family are in out-of-home placement pursuant to an order of the dependency court, if the family is receiving reunification services and the county determines that homeless assistance is necessary for reunification to occur.
(B) A family is considered homeless, for the purpose of this section, when the family lacks a fixed and regular nighttime residence; or the family has a primary nighttime residence that is a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations; or the family is residing in a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings. A family is also considered homeless for the purpose of this section if the family has received a notice to pay rent or quit. The family shall demonstrate that the eviction is the result of a verified financial hardship as a result of extraordinary circumstances beyond their control, and not other lease or rental violations, and that the family is experiencing a financial crisis that could result in homelessness if preventative assistance is not provided.
(3) (A) (i) A nonrecurring special needs benefit of sixty-five dollars ($65) a day shall be available to families of up to four members for the costs of temporary shelter, subject to the requirements of this paragraph. The fifth and additional members of the family shall each receive fifteen dollars ($15) per day, up to a daily maximum of one hundred twenty-five dollars ($125). County welfare departments may increase the daily amount available for temporary shelter as necessary to secure the additional bedspace needed by the family.
(ii) This special needs benefit shall be granted or denied immediately upon the family’s application for homeless assistance, and benefits shall be available for up to three working days. The county welfare department shall verify the family’s homelessness within the first three working days and if the family meets the criteria of questionable homelessness established by the department, the county welfare department shall refer the family to its early fraud prevention and detection unit, if the county has such a unit, for assistance in the verification of homelessness within this period.
(iii) After homelessness has been verified, the three-day limit shall be extended for a period of time that, when added to the initial benefits provided, does not exceed a total of 16 calendar days. This extension of benefits shall be done in increments of one week and shall be based upon searching for permanent housing which shall be documented on a housing search form, good cause, or other circumstances defined by the department. Documentation of a housing search shall be required for the initial extension of benefits beyond the three-day limit and on a weekly basis thereafter as long as the family is receiving temporary shelter benefits. Good cause shall include, but is not limited to, situations in which the county welfare department has determined that the family, to the extent it is capable, has made a good faith but unsuccessful effort to secure permanent housing while receiving temporary shelter benefits or that the family is homeless as a direct and primary result of a state or federally declared natural disaster.
(iv) Notwithstanding clauses (ii) and (iii), the county may waive the three-day limit and may provide benefits in increments of more than one week for a family that becomes homeless as a direct and primary result of a state or federally declared natural disaster.
(B) (i) A nonrecurring special needs benefit for permanent housing assistance is available to pay for last month’s rent and security deposits when these payments are reasonable conditions of securing a residence, or to pay for up to two months of rent arrearages, when these payments are a reasonable condition of preventing eviction.
(ii) The last month’s rent or monthly arrearage portion of the payment (I) shall not exceed 80 percent of the family’s total monthly household income without the value of CalFresh benefits or special needs benefit for a family of that size and (II) shall only be made to families that have found permanent housing costing no more than 80 percent of the family’s total monthly household income without the value of CalFresh benefits or special needs benefit for a family of that size.
(iii) However, if the county welfare department determines that a family intends to reside with individuals who will be sharing housing costs, the county welfare department shall, in appropriate circumstances, set aside the condition specified in subclause (II) of clause (ii).
(C) The nonrecurring special needs benefit for permanent housing assistance is also available to cover the standard costs of deposits for utilities that are necessary for the health and safety of the family.
(D) A payment for for, or denial of of, permanent housing assistance shall be issued no later than one working day from the time that a family presents evidence of the availability of permanent housing. If an applicant family provides evidence of the availability of permanent housing before the county welfare department has established eligibility for aid under this chapter, the county welfare department shall complete the eligibility determination so that the payment for, or denial of, permanent housing assistance is issued within one working day from the submission of evidence of the availability of permanent housing, unless the family has failed to provide all of the verification necessary to establish eligibility for aid under this chapter.
(E) (i) Except as provided in clauses (ii) and (iii), eligibility for the temporary shelter assistance and the permanent housing assistance pursuant to this paragraph shall be limited to 16 cumulative calendar days of temporary assistance and every 12 months for one episode in which the family has not secured permanent housing and to one payment of permanent assistance every 12 months. A person who applies for homeless assistance benefits shall be informed that the temporary shelter benefit of up to 16 cumulative days is available only once every 12 months, with certain exceptions.
(ii) (I) A family that becomes homeless as a direct and primary result of a state or federally declared natural disaster shall be eligible for temporary and permanent homeless assistance.
(II) In the event of a state or federally declared disaster in a county, the county human services agency shall coordinate with public and private disaster response organizations and agencies to identify and inform recipients of their eligibility for temporary and permanent homeless housing assistance available pursuant to subclause (I).
(iii) A family shall be eligible for temporary and permanent homeless assistance when homelessness is a direct result of domestic violence by a spouse, partner, or roommate; physical or mental illness that is medically verified that shall not include a diagnosis of alcoholism, drug addiction, or psychological stress; or the uninhabitability of the former residence caused by sudden and unusual circumstances beyond the control of the family family, including natural catastrophe, fire, or condemnation. These circumstances shall be verified by a third-party governmental or private health and human services agency, except that domestic violence may also be verified by a sworn statement by the victim, as provided under Section 11495.25. Homeless assistance payments based on these specific circumstances may not be received more often than once in any 12-month period. In addition, if the domestic violence is verified by a sworn statement by the victim, the homeless assistance payments shall be limited to two periods of not more than 16 consecutive cumulative calendar days of temporary assistance and two payments of permanent assistance. A county may require that a recipient of homeless assistance benefits who qualifies under this paragraph for a second time in a 24-month period participate in a homelessness avoidance case plan as a condition of eligibility for homeless assistance benefits. The county welfare department shall immediately inform recipients who verify domestic violence by a sworn statement of the availability of domestic violence counseling and services, and refer those recipients to services upon request.
(iv) If a county requires a recipient who verifies domestic violence by a sworn statement to participate in a homelessness avoidance case plan pursuant to clause (iii), the plan shall include the provision of domestic violence services, if appropriate.
(v) If a recipient seeking homeless assistance based on domestic violence pursuant to clause (iii) has previously received homeless avoidance services based on domestic violence, the county shall review whether services were offered to the recipient and consider what additional services would assist the recipient in leaving the domestic violence situation.
(vi) The county welfare department shall report necessary data to the department through a statewide homeless assistance payment indicator system, as requested by the department, regarding all recipients of aid under this paragraph.
(F) The county welfare departments, and all other entities participating in the costs of the CalWORKs program, have the right in their share to any refunds resulting from payment of the permanent housing. However, if an emergency requires the family to move within the 12-month period specified in subparagraph (E), the family shall be allowed to use any refunds received from its deposits to meet the costs of moving to another residence.
(G) Payments to providers for temporary shelter and permanent housing and utilities shall be made on behalf of families requesting these payments.
(H) The daily amount for the temporary shelter special needs benefit for homeless assistance may be increased if authorized by the current year’s Budget Act by specifying a different daily allowance and appropriating the funds therefor.
(I) A payment shall not be made pursuant to this paragraph unless the provider of housing is any of the following:
(i) A commercial establishment.
(ii) A shelter.
(iii) A person in the business of renting properties.
(iv) A person with whom the family requesting assistance has executed a valid lease, sublease, or shared housing agreement.
(J) (i) Commencing July 1, 2018, a CalWORKs applicant who provides a sworn statement of past or present domestic abuse and who is fleeing his or her abuser shall be deemed to be homeless and shall be eligible for temporary homeless assistance under clause (i) of subparagraph (A) and under subparagraph (E), notwithstanding any income and assets attributable to the alleged abuser.
(ii) The homeless assistance payments issued under this subparagraph shall be granted immediately after the family’s application, and benefits shall be available in increments of 16 days of temporary shelter assistance pursuant to clause (i) of subparagraph (A). The homeless assistance payments shall be limited to two consecutive periods of not more than 16 consecutive calendar days each of temporary assistance within a lifetime. The homeless assistance payments issued under this subparagraph shall be in addition to other payments for which the CalWORKS applicant, if he or she becomes a CalWORKS recipient, may later qualify under this subdivision.
(iii) For purposes of this subparagraph, the housing search documentation described in clause (iii) of subparagraph (A) shall be required only upon issuance of an immediate need payment pursuant to Section 11266 or the issuance of benefits for the month of application.
(g) The department shall establish rules and regulations ensuring the uniform statewide application of this section.
(h) The department shall notify all applicants and recipients of aid through the standardized application form that these benefits are available and shall provide an opportunity for recipients to apply for the funds quickly and efficiently.
(i) The department shall work with county human services agencies, the County Welfare Directors Association, and advocates of CalWORKs recipients to gather information regarding the actual costs of a nightly shelter and best practices for transitioning families from a temporary shelter to a permanent shelter, and to provide that information to the Legislature, to be annually submitted in accordance with Section 9795 of the Government Code.
(j) (1) Except for the purposes of Section 15200, the amounts payable to recipients pursuant to Section 11453.1 shall not constitute part of the payment schedule set forth in subdivision (a).
(2) The amounts payable to recipients pursuant to Section 11453.1 shall not constitute income to recipients of aid under this section.
(k) For children receiving Kin-GAP pursuant to Article 4.5 (commencing with Section 11360) or Article 4.7 (commencing with Section 11385) 11385), there shall be paid, exclusive of any amount considered exempt as income, an amount of aid each month, which, when added to the child’s income, is equal to the rate specified in Sections 11364 and 11387.
(l) (1) A county shall implement the semiannual reporting requirements in accordance with Chapter 501 of the Statutes of 2011 no later than October 1, 2013.
(2) Upon completion of the implementation described in paragraph (1), each county shall provide a certificate to the director certifying that semiannual reporting has been implemented in the county.
(3) Upon filing the certificate described in paragraph (2), a county shall comply with the semiannual reporting provisions of this section.

SEC. 2.

 Notwithstanding the Administrative Procedure Act (Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 11340) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code), the State Department of Social Services may implement this act through an all-county letter or similar instruction from the Director of Social Services until final regulations are adopted. The department shall adopt final regulations implementing this act on or before July 1, 2019.

SEC. 2.SEC. 3.

 If the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code.

SEC. 3.SEC. 4.

 No appropriation pursuant to Section 15200 of the Welfare and Institutions Code shall be made for purposes of this act.
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REVISIONS:
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