Gov. Brown Signs Bill to Bolster Action on Homelessness

Monday, October 16, 2017

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) to boost the construction of homeless shelters that can link people in need with services to achieve self-sufficiency in seven communities where nearly half the state’s homeless population resides and 70 percent are unsheltered.

“Finally the communities that prioritize action on homelessness through emergency declarations can be free from red tape,” said Ting.  “This bill gives us a chance to explore new and innovative solutions to help more people get off the street.  California has a homelessness crisis and it’s painfully obvious that business as usual is failing.”

Ting’s Assembly Bill (AB) 932 creates a pilot program providing regulatory relief to 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 local standards for 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.

Berkeley, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, and San Francisco have already declared shelter crises.  Current law only provides them with limited regulatory relief to expand shelter capacity through repurposing existing publicly owned or leased buildings into shelters.

Overall, California has the largest homeless population of any state in the nation, with 118,142 homeless residents.  Among communities included in AB 932, 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.

AB 932 is widely supported by local governments and advocates for the homeless.  Here is what supporters had to say while the bill was pending with Governor Brown.

"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.”

“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."

“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 Santa Clara County Board President Dave Cortese.  “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.”

"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 of Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco.  “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.”

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Contact:  Jessica Duong, tel. (916) 319-2019, jessica.duong@asm.ca.gov