CA Assembly Passes Bill to Help SF Tackle Homeless Shelter Crisis

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – The California State Assembly passed legislation authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) to give San Francisco flexibility to build shelters and transitional housing for unsheltered homeless residents.

Assembly Bill (AB) 932 passed with a 67-0 vote and moves to the State Senate for further review.

“We need the freedom to think out of the box to solve our homeless crisis,” said Ting.  “Red tape bogs us down.  This bill enables us to craft innovative, local solutions to get the best use out of the resources we have to fight homelessness.”

AB 932 streamlines until 2027 processes for building homeless shelters and supportive housing in San Francisco upon the declaration of a shelter crisis.  In lieu of compliance with state and local building, housing, health, habitability, or safety standards and laws, the city would be able to adopt by ordinance reasonable local standards for homeless shelters and supportive housing.  The California Department of Housing and Community Development would need to review and approve the ordinance to ensure it addresses minimum health and safety standards.

A 2016 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development report found 62.3 percent of the 6,996 homeless people in San Francisco are not sheltered.  This equates to the 6th largest homeless population and the 5th highest rate of unsheltered homeless among major cities across the country.  Of the 118,142 people experiencing homelessness in the state, 66 percent live without shelters.  All five of the nation’s major cities with the highest rate of unsheltered homeless are in California.

The bill was recently amended to add the City of San Diego, which has 8,669 homeless residents.  Ting plans to add more cities as the bill moves forward.  Mayors of the cities of Oakland and Los Angeles, for example, have expressed interest in being included in the bill.

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.”

Here is what AB 932 supporters are saying:

“San Francisco shelters, navigation centers, and supportive housing are highly successful programs,” said Jeff Kositky, Director of San Francisco’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing.  “Since 2011 San Francisco has ended homelessness for over 10,000 people with various city programs.  Despite these successes, there are still thousands of people in need of assistance.  To meet this need San Francisco must have more urgency and flexibility around the opening of navigation centers, shelters, and supportive housing projects.”

“With the homeless crisis that's facing San Francisco we need to do everything that is possible to expedite the building and production of supportive housing, shelters and navigation centers,” said Gail Gilman, Chief Executive Officer of Community Housing Partnership.  “This legislation will give San Francisco the flexibility to bypass cumbersome laws and the freedom to create its own regulations to expedite the production of homes for those who are without.”

“We help over 5,000 parents and children each year at Compass Family Services.  The reason for why families fall into homelessness is bar none the lack of affordable housing and shelter,” says Compass Executive Director Erica Kisch. “Assemblymember Ting’s AB 932 is a courageous step in the right direction because it will allow the City to build emergency shelters and permanent supportive housing when it’s most in need – during a formally-declared shelter crisis, such as the one we’re in right now.  As one of the most socially progressive cities in the world, we can’t continue to allow mothers, fathers, and their children to live without roofs over their heads.  AB 932 will help build those roofs, and so we’re proud to support it.”

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Contact: Anthony Matthews, tel. (916) 319-2019