Bay Area Leaders Urge Gov. Brown to Sign Bill Easing Homeless Shelter Construction

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

AB932 Press Conference

(SAN FRANCISCO, CA) – Bay Area leaders and advocates for the homeless joined Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) in urging Governor Jerry Brown to sign Assembly Bill (AB) 932, legislation providing regulatory relief in order to rapidly build new shelters that can link people in need with services to achieve self-sufficiency.

Ting’s AB 932 passed the State Legislature and now awaits Brown’s signature or veto by October 15.

“California has a homelessness crisis.  Even when declaring a state of emergency, as we have in San Francisco, red tape continues to hold us back,” said Ting.  “This bill gives us a chance to show how new freedoms will help foster new and innovative solutions to help more people get off the street.”

AB 932 creates a pilot program for the Cities of Berkeley, Emeryville, Los Angeles, Oakland and San Diego along with the County of Santa Clara, and the City and County of San Francisco.  Until January 1, 2021, and upon the declaration of a shelter crisis, these communities can adopt by ordinance reasonable local standards for housing habitability, zoning and construction approval to streamline the deployment of temporary shelter housing on publicly owned or leased lands.  The California Department of Housing and Community Development must approve the ordinances within 30 days.

Nearly half of the state’s homeless population is found in the communities included in the pilot project created by AB 932.  And, nearly 70 percent of their homeless residents are unsheltered.

"For the past two decades, the City has systematically moved away from a shelter model and hoped that permanent housing would magically solve our homelessness crisis," said Supervisor London Breed, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.  "We all know that this has not served our City well.  We not only have a homelessness crisis, a housing crisis, and a mental health and substance abuse crisis; we now have a shelter crisis.  As such, we need to expand our existing shelter systems without the bureaucratic red tape.  Thanks to Assemblymember Phil Ting, AB 932 gives us the flexibility do just that.  If signed by the Governor, I'm committed to drafting legislation that would enact this bill locally, so that our shelters can actually provide services and real opportunities for permanent housing."

"This bill lets Oakland move with urgency," said Oakland City Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney.  "Oakland needs this discretion to open up more shelters throughout the City so people have a better option than creating encampments under freeways."

“The cost of living crisis has helped trigger a homelessness crisis," said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.  "AB 932 gives cities like Oakland the flexibility to create on-the-ground solutions and move people into shelters. Homeless encampments are not safe for anyone – least of all the people living in them.”

“Santa Clara County has been working hard to meet the needs of our 7,000 homeless men, women and children, 5,000 of whom have no shelter at night,” said Supervisor Dave Cortese, President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.  “AB 932 will allow us to speed up the creation of temporary emergency housing with supportive services while permanent supportive housing is built with Housing Bond revenue.  I urge Governor Brown to sign this bill into law and thank State Senator Jim Beall for his work in having Santa Clara County included in this legislation.”

“Berkeley and the entire Bay Area is facing a homeless crisis with thousands of people living on our streets without access to basic shelter.  This is why cities like Berkeley have declared a Homeless Shelter Crisis, and although there have been some roadblocks with permit and code requirements, we are committed to addressing this problem,” said Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin.  “AB 932 is an innovative solution to assist cities to create more low-cost shelter. No human being should have to live on the streets.”

"Assembly Bill 932 gives cities like Emeryville additional flexibility to address the growing shelter crisis,” said Emeryville Mayor Scott Donahue.  “Emeryville will leverage these new tools to ensure we are helping the broader region deliver solutions to people experiencing homelessness."

Overall, California has the largest homeless population of any state in the nation, with 118,142 homeless residents.  Among the communities included in the pilot project, their homeless populations follow:

  • The City of Los Angeles has 34,189 homeless residents, with 25,237 unsheltered
  • The City and County of San Francisco has 7,499 homeless residents, with 4,353 unsheltered
  • The County of Santa Clara has 7,394 homeless residents, with 5,448 unsheltered
  • The City of San Diego has 5,619 homeless residents, with 3,231 unsheltered
  • The City of Oakland has 2,761 homeless residents, with 1,902 unsheltered
  • The City of Berkeley has 972 homeless residents, with 664 unsheltered
  • The City of Emeryville has 29 homeless residents, all unsheltered.

"To meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness and the entire community, San Francisco must have more flexibility around the opening of navigation centers and shelters,” said Jeff Kositsky, Director of San Francisco’s Department of Homelessness & Supportive Housing.  “AB 932 will give our city the ability to open new emergency shelters and navigation centers with urgency demanded by our community.”

“More than 80 percent of young people experiencing homelessness in San Francisco are unsheltered, according to the latest Point in Time Count. This is unacceptable.  One way to change this is to expedite the development of new shelters in San Francisco,” said Sherilyn Adams, Executive Director, Larkin Street Youth Services.  “AB 932 is a reasonable approach with a defined set of circumstances to develop more shelters for people experiencing homelessness.  We are facing a homelessness crisis on our city’s streets, and AB 932 is a critical step toward solving it.”

“We see the virtue of making it easier and more cost effective to provide housing for those who are without shelter,” said Shari Wooldridge, Executive Director, Society of St. Vincent de Paul-San Francisco.  “We have the experience of working with the City in providing successful temporary shelter and services.  The South Van Ness Navigation Center is an example of how the partnership and collaboration of the City with a local Non Profit and a private property owner can provide a respite from the streets and positively impact a reduction in street encampments.”

In May 2016, a San Francisco Board of Supervisors resolution urged Governor Jerry Brown to declare a State of Emergency on Homelessness and to “create permanent housing opportunities with the right level of services to ensure that housing opportunities are stable and successful in the long-term.”  The Cities of Berkeley and Los Angeles have also declared states of emergencies.  The Cities of Oakland and San Diego are in the process of doing so.

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Contacts:  Anthony Matthews and Jessica Duong, tel. (916) 319-2019