Funding to Fight Homelessness
You and I both see it throughout our city: far too many people are living on the street or in tents.
In recent years, we were making progress; navigation centers were coming online, providing pathways to stable housing and employment. Then the pandemic hit; people lost their jobs and, despite best efforts to provide unemployment insurance, stimulus payments and rental assistance, too many San Franciscans lost their housing.
We are fortunate that our state saw revenue far above the grave predictions made during the height of the pandemic; this has allowed us to maintain and even expand investments in California and its people. Homelessness is no exception; our budget includes $1 billion in both fiscal years 2021-22 and 2022-23 for the Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention Program (HHAPP), with a formula for distribution to cities, counties, tribes, and government/nonprofit partnerships known as the Community of Care Program (CoC). Between funds going to the city, county and CoC, San Francisco is estimated to receive a little over $47 million in 2021-22.
As Assembly Budget Committee chair, I am proud that we were able to make these investments. However, we are not going to just throw money at the problem without accountability. This funding will be allocated through the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council (HCFC), which was created in 2017 to develop policy and to identify and allocate resources towards the goal of ending homelessness in California. HCFC includes representatives from state departments and community organizations as well as members who experienced homelessness. Two members hail from San Francisco, with one of the two previously experiencing homelessness.
Recipients are prohibited from using these funds to offset the amount of existing local funds normally spent on services. As a consequence, HCFC can reduce or eliminate potential future funding. Additionally, recipients must also use at least 10% of the funds to address youth homelessness.
HCFC will be responsible for determining whether a recipient meets stated goals. For the first round of $1 billion, they will require applicants to submit an action plan with deliverables. For the next round in fiscal year 2022-23, applicants must submit an updated action plan that takes into account progress made and lays out a plan to address homelessness over the next three years.
Recipients must submit a yearly progress report and a quarterly report of how funds are expended. If they are not making sufficient progress, they must submit a description of the obstacles along with possible solutions and must accept assistance from HCFC. Monies not spent by certain deadlines are returned to the council to be allocated as bonus funds to recipients who met goals.
This budget makes additional groundbreaking investments. It establishes the Encampment Resolution Funding Program, providing grants to get people out of tents and into stable housing, and Family Homelessness Challenge Grants to help localities address family homelessness.
I know that some may have the impression that we are throwing good money after bad. That is why we are ensuring that, over the next few years, we will see marked progress in the fight to end homelessness in California.
Phil Ting represents the 19th Assembly District, which includes the west side of San Francisco along with the communities of Broadmoor, Colma and Daly City. He lives in the Sunset District. He can be reached at (415) 557-2312 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information and updates, visit https://a19.asmdc.org.