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SB-678 Unaccompanied Women Experiencing Homelessness Act of 2021.(2021-2022)

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Date Published: 02/19/2021 09:00 PM
SB678:v99#DOCUMENT

Revised  June 23, 2021

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill
No. 678


Introduced by Senator Rubio
(Principal coauthor: Assembly Member Santiago)
(Coauthors: Senators Caballero and Durazo)
(Coauthor: Assembly Member Wicks)

February 19, 2021


An act to amend Section 8257 of, and to add Chapter 8 (commencing with Section 8270) to Division 8 of, the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to homelessness.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 678, as introduced, Rubio. Unaccompanied Women Experiencing Homelessness Act of 2021.
Existing law establishes various programs, including, among others, the Emergency Housing and Assistance Program and homeless youth emergency service pilot projects to provide assistance to homeless persons. Existing law establishes the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council to oversee the implementation of Housing First guidelines and regulations, and, among other things, identify resources, benefits, and services that can be accessed to prevent and end homelessness in California.
This bill would require the council to assume additional responsibilities, including setting specific, measurable goals aimed at preventing and ending homelessness among unaccompanied women in the state and defining outcome measures and gathering data related to those goals. The bill would also require the council, in order to coordinate a spectrum of funding, policy, and practice efforts related to unaccompanied women experiencing homelessness, to coordinate with certain stakeholders and, to the extent that funding is made available, provide technical assistance and program development support.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

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


SECTION 1.

 This act shall be known, and may be cited, as the Unaccompanied Women Experiencing Homelessness Act of 2021.

SEC. 2.

 Section 8257 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

8257.
 (a) The Governor shall create a Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council.
(b) The council shall have all of the following goals:
(1) To oversee implementation of this chapter.
(2) To identify mainstream resources, benefits, and services that can be accessed to prevent and end homelessness in California.
(3) To create partnerships among state agencies and departments, local government agencies, participants in the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Continuum of Care Program, federal agencies, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, nonprofit entities working to end homelessness, homeless services providers, and the private sector, for the purpose of arriving at specific strategies to end homelessness.
(4) To promote systems integration to increase efficiency and effectiveness while focusing on designing systems to address the needs of people experiencing homelessness, including unaccompanied youth under 25 years of age. age and unaccompanied women.
(5) To coordinate existing funding and applications for competitive funding. Any action taken pursuant to this paragraph shall not restructure or change any existing allocations or allocation formulas.
(6) To make policy and procedural recommendations to legislators and other governmental entities.
(7) To identify and seek funding opportunities for state entities that have programs to end homelessness, including, but not limited to, federal and philanthropic funding opportunities, and to facilitate and coordinate those state entities’ efforts to obtain that funding.
(8) To broker agreements between state agencies and departments and between state agencies and departments and local jurisdictions to align and coordinate resources, reduce administrative burdens of accessing existing resources, and foster common applications for services, operating, and capital funding.
(9) To serve as a statewide facilitator, coordinator, and policy development resource on ending homelessness in California.
(10) To report to the Governor, federal Cabinet members, and the Legislature on homelessness and work to reduce homelessness.
(11) To ensure accountability and results in meeting the strategies and goals of the council.
(12) To identify and implement strategies to fight homelessness in small communities and rural areas.
(13) To create a statewide data system or warehouse that collects local data through Homeless Management Information Systems, with the ultimate goal of matching data on homelessness to programs impacting homeless recipients of state programs, such as Medi-Cal (Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 14000) of Part 3 of Division 9) and CalWORKs (Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 11200) of Part 3 of Division 9).
(14) Setting goals to prevent and end homelessness among California’s youth. youth and unaccompanied women.
(15) Working to improve the safety, health, and welfare of young people and unaccompanied women experiencing homelessness in the state.
(16) Increasing system integration and coordinating efforts to prevent homelessness among youth who are currently or formerly involved in the child welfare system or the juvenile justice system.
(17) Leading efforts to coordinate a spectrum of funding, policy, and practice efforts related to young people and unaccompanied women experiencing homelessness.
(18) Identifying best practices to ensure homeless minors who may have experienced maltreatment, as described in Section 300, are appropriately referred to, or have the ability to self-refer to, the child welfare system.
(c) (1) The Governor shall appoint up to 19 members of the council as follows:
(A) The Secretary of Business, Consumer Services, and Housing, or the secretary’s designee, who shall serve as chair of the council.
(B) A representative from the Department of Transportation.
(C) A representative from the Department of Housing and Community Development.
(D) A representative of the State Department of Social Services.
(E) A representative of the California Housing Finance Agency.
(F) A representative of the State Department of Health Care Services.
(G) A representative of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
(H) A representative of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
(I) A representative from the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee in the Treasurer’s office.
(J) A representative of the Victim Services Program within the Division of Grants Management within the Office of Emergency Services.
(K) A representative from the State Department of Education.
(L) A representative of the state public higher education system who shall be from one of the following:
(i) The California Community Colleges.
(ii) The University of California.
(iii) The California State University.
(M) A formerly homeless person who lives in California.
(N) A formerly homeless youth who lives in California.
(O) Two representatives of local agencies or organizations that participate in the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Continuum of Care Program.
(P) State advocates or other members of the public or state agencies, at the Governor’s discretion.
(2) The Senate Committee on Rules and the Speaker of the Assembly shall each appoint one member to the council from two different stakeholder organizations.
(3) 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.
(d) The council shall hold public meetings at least once every quarter.
(e) The members of the council shall serve at the pleasure of the appointing authority.
(f) Within existing funding, 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) The members of the council shall serve without compensation, except that members of the council who are, or have been, homeless may receive reimbursement for travel, per diem, or other expenses.
(h) The Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency shall provide staff for the council.
(i) The members of the council may enter into memoranda of understanding with other members of the council to achieve the goals set forth in this chapter, as necessary, in order to facilitate communication and cooperation between the entities the members of the council represent.
(j) There shall be an executive director of the council under the direction of the Secretary of Business, Consumer Services, and Housing.
(k) The council shall be under the direction of the executive director and staffed by employees of the Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency.
(l) For the purposes of this section, “unaccompanied women” has the same meaning as in Section 8271.

SEC. 3.

 Chapter 8 (commencing with Section 8270) is added to Division 8 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read:
CHAPTER  8. Unaccompanied Women Experiencing Homelessness Act of 2021

8270.
 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) Unaccompanied women are individuals who identify as women, 18 years of age and older, who are experiencing homelessness not in the company of children or other dependents.
(b) Unaccompanied women constitute 29 percent, or nearly 1 in 3, of all adult individuals experiencing homelessness in the United States, for a total of 115,625 women, according to point-in-time (PIT) counts summarized in the 2019 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) prepared by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
(c) California has the single largest population of women experiencing homelessness in the nation, at 50,467 women. Roughly 1 in 4 women experiencing homelessness in the United States live in California.
(d) There remains a critical dearth of research on the unique needs of unhoused women, and specifically unaccompanied women, experiencing homelessness, as HUD first disaggregated data by gender starting with the 2015 AHAR. What little is known points to deeply troubling trends, with unaccompanied women now representing over one half of all women unhoused in America.
(e) Unaccompanied women endure high rates of first-time homelessness, longer spells of homelessness, and higher barriers in accessing stable housing. Unaccompanied women are also disproportionately women of color, particularly Black women, and they report extremely high incidence of trauma–whether physical, sexual, or psychological in nature–that is compounded by their ongoing houselessness.
(f) In the past several years, HUD has designated official homeless subpopulations–families, youth, veterans, and the chronically homeless–as a means to call out their unique needs and to develop specific strategies that have shown to reduce overall levels of homelessness. For a variety of factors, unaccompanied women are deprived of accessing these subpopulation-specific programs.
(g) In order to further the goal to ending homelessness amongst women, it is the intent of the Legislature in enacting the Unaccompanied Women Experiencing Homelessness Act of 2021 to formally recognize the unique needs of unaccompanied women experiencing homelessness, to improve research, prevention, early intervention support services, and to lower barriers to housing, sexual, and mental health resources for all women experiencing homelessness in California.

8271.
 The following definitions apply for purposes of this chapter:
(a) “Act” means the Unaccompanied Women Experiencing Homelessness Act of 2021 enacted by this chapter.
(b) “Continuum of care” has the same meaning as defined in Section 578.3 of Title 24 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
(c) “Council” means the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council as described in Section 8257.
(d) “Unaccompanied woman” means an individual who identifies as a woman 18 years of age or older who is experiencing homelessness, as defined in the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. Sec. 11302), who is not accompanied by children or other dependents.
(e) “Homeless point-in-time counts” has the same meaning as in Section 578.3 of Title 24 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

8272.
 (a) The council shall set and measure progress towards goals to prevent and end homelessness among unaccompanied women in California by doing both of the following:
(1) Setting specific, measurable goals aimed at preventing and ending homelessness among unaccompanied women in the state. These goals shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
(A) Measurably decreasing the number of unaccompanied women experiencing homelessness in the state.
(B) Decreasing the duration and frequency of experiences of homelessness among unaccompanied women.
(C) Decreasing barriers to services through promoting cross-systems partnerships to expedite access to services, including social services, domestic violence services, regional center services, and mental health services.
(2) Defining outcome measures and gathering data related to the goals.
(A) The council shall develop and collect data on county-level and statewide measures, including, but not limited to, the number of unaccompanied women experiencing homelessness in California and their family unit status, race, gender age, geography, sexual orientation, and whether they have been a victim of domestic violence or intimate partner violence. The council shall also include this data on unaccompanied women in the Homeless Data Integration System (HDIS), within 90 days of HDIS being operationalized.
(B) Data collection and sharing among state and county agencies and service providers shall be a condition upon the receipt of any state funding for programs related to homelessness and its prevention. All recipients shall be required to share with the council any relevant data from their Homeless Management Information Systems. A continuum of care shall share with the council the results of the homeless point-in-time count submitted to United States Department of Housing and Urban Development on the Homelessness Data Exchange website. Data collection and sharing pursuant to this chapter shall be conducted and maintained in accordance with all applicable state and federal privacy and confidentiality laws and regulations.
(C) The council shall seek data from any and all relevant sources, including the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) and homeless point-in-time counts, if available, in order to meet the requirements of this section.
(D) Providers of data shall do either of the following:
(i) Redact the names, dates of birth, and addresses of victims of domestic violence, as defined in Section 6211 of the Family Code, prior to reporting data to the council.
(ii) Obtain informed consent from a victim of domestic violence, as defined in Section 6211 of the Family Code and in accordance with all applicable state and federal confidentiality laws, before disclosing confidential information about that individual pursuant to this section.
(b) In order to coordinate a spectrum of funding, policy, and practice efforts related to unaccompanied women experiencing homelessness, the council shall do both of the following:
(1) Coordinate with unaccompanied women experiencing homelessness, the State Department of Social Services, other appropriate state and county agencies and departments, the state advisory group established pursuant to Section 1785, and other stakeholders to inform policy, practices, and programs.
(2) To the extent that funding is made available, provide technical assistance and program development support to increase capacity among new and existing service providers to best meet statewide needs, particularly in areas where services for unaccompanied women experiencing homelessness have not been established, and provide support to service providers in making evidence-informed and data-driven decisions.

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REVISIONS:
Heading—Line 4.
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