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AB-258 Emergency shelters: Emergency Housing and Assistance Program: pets.(2021-2022)

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Date Published: 03/22/2021 09:00 PM
AB258:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  March 22, 2021

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 258


Introduced by Assembly Member Villapudua
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Nazarian, Santiago, and Ward)
(Coauthor: Senator Archuleta)

January 15, 2021


An act to add Section 50801.6 to the Health and Safety Code, amend Section 8255 of, and to add Section 8256.1 to, the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to housing.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 258, as amended, Villapudua. Emergency shelters and transitional housing: shelters: Emergency Housing and Assistance Program: pets.
Existing law establishes various programs to provide assistance to homeless persons. Existing law requires a state agency or department that funds, implements, or administers a state program that provides housing or housing-related services to people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness, except as specified, to adopt guidelines and regulations to include enumerated Housing First policies.
This bill would require that all state programs created on or after January 1, 2022, providing interim housing, as defined, follow specified low barrier practices. The bill would also establish requirements for the adoption and implementation of these practices for programs existing prior to January 1, 2022, as specified.

Existing law requires the Department of Housing and Community Development to administer the Emergency Housing and Assistance Program. Under the program, moneys from the continuously appropriated Emergency Housing and Assistance Fund are available for the purposes of providing shelter, as specified, to homeless persons at as low of a cost and as quickly as possible, without compromising the health and safety of shelter occupants, to encourage the move of homeless persons from shelters to a self-supporting environment as soon as possible, to encourage provision of services for as many persons at risk of homelessness as possible, to encourage compatible and effective funding of homeless services, and to encourage coordination among public agencies that fund or provide services to homeless individuals, as well as agencies that discharge people from their institutions. Existing law, and regulations adopted by the department, establish the eligibility requirements for an applicant or grantee under the program.

This bill would for purposes of the program, in addition to other eligibility requirements, specify that an applicant or grantee under the program that provides emergency shelter or transitional housing for homeless persons shall not prohibit the keeping of not more than one pet, as defined, by a homeless person. The bill would authorize an applicant or grantee to require the removal of any pet whose conduct or condition is determined to constitute a threat or nuisance to the other occupants of the emergency shelter or transitional housing. The bill would prohibit an applicant or grantee from imposing rules that would make it financially prohibitive for a homeless person to own a pet. The bill would, with exceptions, relieve an applicant or grantee of liability for personal or property damage caused by any pet in the emergency shelter or transitional housing accommodation. The bill would specify that its provisions do not prohibit an applicant or grantee from adopting reasonable regulations relating to the keeping of pets in an emergency shelter or transitional housing accomodation. The bill would further specify, among other things, that its provisions do not relieve a homeless person from any liability otherwise imposed by law for damages caused by such pet. The bill would encourage applicants and grantees, where available, to partner with organizations within the community to provide food and veterinary care for the pet if necessary.

Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

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


SECTION 1.

 Section 8255 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

8255.
 For purposes of this chapter:
(a) “Coordinating council” means the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council established pursuant to Section 8257.
(b) “Core components of Housing First” means all of the following:
(1) Tenant screening and selection practices that promote accepting applicants regardless of their sobriety or use of substances, completion of treatment, or participation in services.
(2) Applicants are not rejected on the basis of poor credit or financial history, poor or lack of rental history, criminal convictions unrelated to tenancy, or behaviors that indicate a lack of “housing readiness.”
(3) Acceptance of referrals directly from shelters, street outreach, drop-in centers, and other parts of crisis response systems frequented by vulnerable people experiencing homelessness.
(4) Supportive services that emphasize engagement and problem solving over therapeutic goals and service plans that are highly tenant-driven without predetermined goals.
(5) Participation in services or program compliance is not a condition of permanent housing tenancy.
(6) Tenants have a lease and all the rights and responsibilities of tenancy, as outlined in California’s Civil, Health and Safety, and Government codes.
(7) The use of alcohol or drugs in and of itself, without other lease violations, is not a reason for eviction.
(8) In communities with coordinated assessment and entry systems, incentives for funding promote tenant selection plans for supportive housing that prioritize eligible tenants based on criteria other than “first-come-first-serve,” including, but not limited to, the duration or chronicity of homelessness, vulnerability to early mortality, or high utilization of crisis services. Prioritization may include triage tools, developed through local data, to identify high-cost, high-need homeless residents.
(9) Case managers and service coordinators who are trained in and actively employ evidence-based practices for client engagement, including, but not limited to, motivational interviewing and client-centered counseling.
(10) Services are informed by a harm-reduction philosophy that recognizes drug and alcohol use and addiction as a part of tenants’ lives, where tenants are engaged in nonjudgmental communication regarding drug and alcohol use, and where tenants are offered education regarding how to avoid risky behaviors and engage in safer practices, as well as connected to evidence-based treatment if the tenant so chooses.
(11) The project and specific apartment may include special physical features that accommodate disabilities, reduce harm, and promote health and community and independence among tenants.
(c) “Homeless” has the same definition as that term is defined in Section 91.5 of Title 24 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
(d) (1) “Housing First” means the evidence-based model that uses housing as a tool, rather than a reward, for recovery and that centers on providing or connecting homeless people to permanent housing as quickly as possible. Housing First providers offer services as needed and requested on a voluntary basis and that do not make housing contingent on participation in services.
(2) (A) “Housing First” includes time-limited rental or services assistance, so long as the housing and service provider assists the recipient in accessing permanent housing and in securing longer-term rental assistance, income assistance, or employment.
(B) For time-limited, supportive services programs serving homeless youth, programs should use a positive youth development model and be culturally competent to serve unaccompanied youth under 25 years of age. Providers should work with the youth to engage in family reunification efforts, where appropriate and when in the best interest of the youth. In the event of an eviction, programs shall make every effort, which shall be documented, to link tenants to other stable, safe, decent housing options. Exit to homelessness should be extremely rare, and only after a tenant refuses assistance with housing search, location, and move-in assistance.
(e) “Interim housing” means a safe place to live that does not qualify as permanent housing and includes, but is not limited to, emergency shelters, navigation centers, motel vouchers, recovery-oriented interim interventions, Project Roomkey or Project Homekey sites used as interim housing, a cabin or similar communities, and recuperative or respite care, as those terms may be defined under any other applicable local, state, or federal programs.
(f) “Low barrier” means best practices to reduce barriers to entry, and must include, but is not limited to, all of the following:
(1) The presence of partners and older minors if it is not a population-specific site, such as for survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault, women, or youth.
(2) The acceptance of pets.
(3) The storage of possessions.
(4) Privacy, such as partitions around beds in a dormitory setting or in larger rooms containing more than two beds, or private rooms.
(5) A Housing First, service-enriched intervention focused on moving people into permanent housing that provides temporary living facilities while case managers connect individuals experiencing homelessness to permanent housing, income, public benefits, and health services.
(6) A harm-reduction approach, except where tenants request an abstinence-based model. A harm-reduction approach must allow residents to engage in treatment for substance use disorders, including medications for addiction treatment.
(7) A system for entering information regarding client stays, demographics, income, and exit destination through a local homeless management information system or similar system.

(e)

(g) “State programs” means any programs a California state agency or department funds, implements, or administers for the purpose of providing housing or housing-based services to people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness, with the exception of federally funded programs with requirements inconsistent with this chapter or programs that fund emergency shelters.

SEC. 2.

 Section 8256.1 is added to the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read:

8256.1.
 (a) For all state programs providing interim housing created on or after January 1, 2022, the interim housing shall follow low barrier practices, as defined in subdivision (f) of Section 8255.
(b) For state programs providing interim housing in existence prior to January 1, 2022, if the state program is implemented or administered by a private organization receiving funding from a state agency or department, the program providing interim housing shall adopt and implement low barrier practices, as defined in subdivision (f) of Section 8255, prior to renewing any funding agreement with the state agency or department.
(c) For state programs providing interim housing in existence prior to January 1, 2022, if the state program is implemented or administered by a state agency or department, the program providing interim housing shall adopt and implement low barrier practices, as defined in subdivision (f) of Section 8255, by no later than July 1, 2022.

SECTION 1.Section 50801.6 is added to the Health and Safety Code, to read:
50801.6.

(a)In addition to any eligibility requirements established pursuant to Section 50801.5 or by regulation, an applicant or grantee that provides emergency shelter or transitional housing to homeless persons shall not prohibit the keeping of not more than one pet by a homeless person.

(b)Nothing in this section shall prevent an applicant or grantee from requiring the removal from any emergency shelter or transitional housing of any pet whose conduct or condition is duly determined to constitute a threat or nuisance to the other occupants of the emergency shelter or transitional housing. No pet may be kept in violation of humane or health laws. Nothing in this section authorizes an applicant or grantee to impose any requirement which makes the keeping of a pet by a homeless person financially prohibitive.

(c)An applicant or grantee shall not be liable for personal or property damages caused by any pet in the emergency shelter or transitional housing accommodation, except upon proof of prior actual knowledge on behalf of its agents or employees of a dangerous propensity of the pet or hazardous condition created by the pet.

(d)Nothing in this section shall prevent an applicant or grantee from adopting reasonable regulations relating to any such pets; prevent the adoption of differing terms for the tenancy which are reasonably related to the presence of such pet; or relieve a homeless person from any liability otherwise imposed by law for damages caused by such pet when proof of same exists.

(e)Where available, applicants and grantees are encouraged to partner with organizations within the community to provide food and veterinary care for the pet if necessary.

(f)For purposes of this section, “pet” means a domesticated dog or cat.