Code Section Group

Welfare and Institutions Code - WIC


  ( Division 8 repealed and added by Stats. 1967, Ch. 1667. )

CHAPTER 6.5. Housing First and Coordinating Council [8255 - 8257]
  ( Chapter 6.5 added by Stats. 2016, Ch. 847, Sec. 2. )


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) “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.

(Added by Stats. 2016, Ch. 847, Sec. 2. (SB 1380) Effective January 1, 2017.)


(a) Agencies and departments administering state programs created on or after July 1, 2017, shall collaborate with the coordinating council to adopt guidelines and regulations to incorporate core components of Housing First.

(b) By July 1, 2019, except as otherwise provided in subdivision (c), agencies and departments administering state programs in existence prior to July 1, 2017, shall collaborate with the coordinating council to revise or adopt guidelines and regulations that incorporate the core components of Housing First, if the existing guidelines and regulations do not already incorporate the core components of Housing First.

(c) (1) An agency or department that administers programs that fund recovery housing shall comply with the requirements of subdivision (b) by July 1, 2022.

(2) An agency or department that administers programs that fund recovery housing shall additionally do both of the following:

(A) In coordination with the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council, consult with the Legislature, the Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, and other stakeholders between July 1, 2020, and January 1, 2022, to identify ways to improve the provision of housing to individuals who receive funding from that agency or department, consistent with the applicable requirements of state law.

(B) Ensure that recovery housing programs meet the following requirements:

(i) A recovery housing program participant shall sign an agreement upon entry that outlines the roles and responsibilities of both the participant and the program administrator to ensure individuals are aware of actions that could result in removal from the recovery housing program.

(ii) If a recovery housing program participant chooses to stop living in a housing setting with an abstinence focus, is discharged from the program, or is evicted from housing, the program administrator shall offer assistance in accessing other housing and services options, including options operated with harm-reduction principles. To the extent practicable, this assistance shall include connecting the individual with alternative housing providers, supportive services, and the local coordinated entry system, if applicable. This clause does not apply to an individual who leaves the program without notifying the program administrator.

(iii) The recovery housing program administrator shall track and report annually to the program’s state funding source the housing outcome for each program participant who is discharged.

(3) For purposes of this subdivision, “recovery housing” means sober living facilities and programs that provide housing in an abstinence-focused and peer-supported community for people recovering from substance use issues. Participation is voluntary, unless that participation is pursuant to a court order or is a condition of release for individuals under the jurisdiction of a county probation department or the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

(4) A recovery housing program shall comply with the core components of Housing First, other than those components described in paragraphs (5) through (7), inclusive, of subdivision (b) of Section 8255.

(Amended by Stats. 2020, Ch. 15, Sec. 26. (AB 83) Effective June 29, 2020.)


(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.

(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.

(15) Working to improve the safety, health, and welfare of young people 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 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.

(Amended by Stats. 2019, Ch. 345, Sec. 1.5. (SB 687) Effective January 1, 2020.)

WICWelfare and Institutions Code - WIC