Assembly Budget Subcommittees Convene Informational Hearing on Homelessness

On Wednesday, the Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 1 on Health and Human Services, chaired by Assembly Member Joaquin Arambula, and the Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 4 on State Administration, chaired by Assembly Member Jim Cooper, convened a joint informational hearing on the Governor’s 2020 budget proposals on homelessness. The hearing took place after the Governor’s State of the State Address, which largely focused on homelessness and set the tone for much of the hearing discussion. Assembly Member Arambula led with acknowledging the Governor’s leadership in this area and underscored his encouragement of the State to lean in. Assembly Member Cooper’s opening remarks acknowledged that two aspects of homelessness that must be addressed, getting people off the streets and preventing people from ever entering homelessness.

Lourdes Morales from the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) provided committee members with an overview of the Governor’s budget proposals, walking through their recently published report. She led with a few key statistics framing the homelessness crisis in our state with California having 27 percent of the nation’s homeless population, of which 23 percent are severely mentally ill and 27 percent are chronically homeless. Key takeaways from her presentation included concerns that the regional approach included in the Governor’s California Access to Housing and Services (CAAHS) Fund proposal could further complicate the state and local relationship to deliver services. In addition, while sharing that the Governor’s investments merit consideration, she cautioned about the lack of a cohesive approach.

The hearing included a state panel with Jennifer Troia, California Department of Social Services (CDSS), Jacey Cooper, Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), and Stephanie Clendenin, Department of State Hospitals (DSH). During the panel, Ms. Troia shared some of the early thinking around the CAAHS fund given CDSS is tasked with the administration of the funding and stressed the Governor’s interest in incentivizing collaboration. Ms. Clendenin focused her remarks on the Community Care Collaborative Pilot project aimed at addressing challenges with the incompetent to stand trial (IST) population. Ms. Cooper’s remarks highlighted opportunities within Medi-Cal Healthier California For All (also known as CalAIM) through the proposed enhanced care management (ECM) benefit and in-lieu of services (ILOS). She framed ECM services as high touch enhanced care that would be community based and serve key target populations such as individuals that are homeless, recently incarcerated and those with severe mental illness or substance use disorders. She provided a few examples of the ILOS that plans could offer such as housing navigation, first and last month’s rent and utility deposits, liaison services to assist people with staying housed, recuperative care, and day habilitation for the homeless.

The final panel provided discussion on additional homelessness funding priorities. Assembly Members Santiago and Wicks and Phil Ansell from Los Angeles County presented their request for $2 billion in ongoing funding to address homelessness statewide, with 55 percent for continuums of care in counties, 40 percent for cities and 5 percent for affordable housing. Michelle Cabrera, Executive Director of the County Behavioral Health Director’s Association (CBHDA), provided further demographics on California’s homelessness population and discussed services provided by county behavioral health. She discussed opportunities for behavioral health in CalAIM and additional resources needed to further address homelessness including dedicated funding board and care. Other presenters included representatives from the San Francisco Department of Public Health, underscoring the need for board and care funding and a County Employment Resources Specialist and SEIU representative reaffirming the value of services provided by county staff.

The hearing agenda can be viewed here and a recording of the hearing can be viewed here.