Archive | Syndicated News

LA County Loses Bid to Dismiss Homelessness Neglect Lawsuit

May 25, 2021
Posted in ,

MARTIN MACIAS JR The Courthouse News- Read original article here

The organization LA Alliance for Human Rights sued the city and county of Los Angeles in March 2020 seeking local government-provided care for homeless people and swift construction of shelter and housing options for the unhoused. The group says the county fails to fund construction of a sufficient amount of housing for the poor and homeless and does not provide the appropriate level of health care needed for the growing unhoused population.

A month after the suit was filed, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter ordered city and county officials to house everyone living in the Skid Row community — a 50-square block, open-air encampment — by October.

The Central District of California judge also ordered county officials to audit funds allocated for fighting homelessness and for the city to place $1 billion in local funds in an impound account.

Attorneys for the county argued Carter’s ruling would unnecessarily push more people into crowded shelters or direct public funds to develop more temporary shelters instead of permanent housing.

The county also argued Skid Row is located in the city and authority to clear sidewalks there lies with city, not county, officials.

In a virtual hearing Monday on the county’s motion, Skip Miller, the county’s outside counsel, told Carter the court is in no position to dictate the county’s spending decisions in the fight against homelessness.

But in an 11-page ruling Tuesday, Carter rejected the county’s arguments and denied the motion to dismiss, writing that the court is well within its power to act if the government fails to address a crisis on the scale of what is present in LA County. Read more

Continue Reading

California Roars Back: Governor Newsom Announces Historic $12 Billion Package to Confront the Homelessness Crisis

May 25, 2021
Posted in ,
Governor Newsom’s $100 billion California Comeback Plan proposes largest increase for homeless housing in California history, creating over 46,000 new units and helping hundreds of thousands of homeless Californians Investments for new programs to clean California’s streets Governor’s plan will end family homelessness within five years   SACRAMENTO— Today, California Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled the second challenge his […] Source Continue Reading

Disruptions to the 2021 PiT Count: Working to Fill Data Gaps

May 25, 2021
Posted in , ,
Homeless services systems will be sorting through the impacts of the pandemic for some time to come. Disruptions to the 2021 Point-in-Time (PiT) Count are a part of the story: the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sanctioned cancellations or modifications of unsheltered counts. An outcome of this emergency decision is that communities have missing or limited information about their unsheltered populations. But many communities are doing the ongoing work of filling in these knowledge gaps.

The Status Quo

Typically, unsheltered counts involve gatherings and in-person contacts discouraged by the CDC and various state and local officials: volunteers are trained in large groups, and go out into the community to have one-on-one conversations with people living unsheltered. Unfortunately, these types of activities raised fears of the virus spreading among volunteers and people experiencing homelessness.  It is likely that communities felt that they had no other choice but to either cancel or significantly change their PIT counts. In fact, within a recent Alliance survey, nearly a third of Continuums of Care (CoCs) said they canceled their 2021 unsheltered PiT Counts. Of those who moved forward, 85 percent indicated that they changed their methodology in some way, opting for abbreviated questionnaires or visual counts.  Modified methods are likely less reliable and produce less information (for example, visual counts cannot account for race or ethnicity). Thus, this year’s count will be like no other in the history of such data collection.

A Helpful Known Factor

While the pandemic interrupted the PIT count, in some CoCs, the pandemic actually reduced the number of unsheltered people.  In response to the crisis, many communities procured motel and hotel rooms for people experiencing homelessness, allowing them to shelter in place and maintain social distance from others. When people who previously outdoors came inside, they were included in the sheltered portion of the PiT Count.  It became much more manageable for systems to survey them, learning more about who they are and what they need.

Persistent Unknown Factors

Despite the benefits of some segment of the homeless population being easier to count, some factors muddle understandings of how unsheltered homelessness has accelerated in 2021. Greater than typical numbers of people may be flowing into unsheltered homelessness. COVID-19 is associated with an economic recession. Businesses temporarily and permanently shuttered. Unemployment numbers remain elevated. As of the end of last month, 15 percent of renters were behind on their rent, amounting to about 7 million adults. And, despite the CDC’s eviction moratorium, many individuals and families are still being evicted in communities across the country. Many of those affected are finding new housing, securing new units or moving in with family and friends. But some are becoming homeless. The nation and many individual communities do not have counts of how many. As a once in a lifetime event, the pandemic may shift the demographics of the unsheltered population in unknown ways. For instance, there may be more people with limited barriers to exiting homelessness. With little knowledge about their numbers and who they are, it is harder to help them. Finally, the federal CARES Act of 2020 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 invested significant new resources in multiple areas that could prevent and reduce unsheltered homelessness. However, given the limited data on the population, it isn’t easy to understand the impacts of these investments.

Alternate Sources of Data

Even without a full 2021 PiT Count, communities have other avenues for understanding a potentially evolving unsheltered homeless population. Many CoCs already had valuable tools in place before the COVID-19 crisis began – and they can (and are) implementing new solutions.   A recent Alliance survey of CoCs revealed the following examples:
  • HMIS. Existing databases (the Homeless Management Information System) can be used for year-round tracking of unsheltered people.
  • By-Name Lists. Similar to the HMIS options, some communities keep “by-name lists”, which are comprehensive and regularly updated lists of people experiencing homelessness.
  • Street Outreach Apps or Records. Street Outreach workers often track the people they serve via phone apps or other record-keeping systems.
  • Coordinated Entry Lists. CoCs can and are keeping records on people they assess for services, including those who are unsheltered.
  • Drop-In Center Data. Some localities can and are collecting data on people utilizing drop-in centers where people living outdoors connect to case management, social services, and other necessities like food, showers, or showers.
  • Encampment Mapping. Communities can and are identifying the locations of encampments and count or estimate how many people live in them.
  • “Mini PiT Counts”. Homeless services systems can (and are) conducting smaller scale PiT Counts that are not a part of the nation-wide effort that occurs in January of each year.
  • Vehicle Counts. Some communities are finding it helpful to count how many people live in cars, RVs, and other vehicles.

Implications for the Future

The pandemic has forced CoCs to enhance supplementary ways of counting unsheltered people, and create new ones. Such approaches will be helpful once normal processes for the annual Point-in-Time Count resume.  The PiT will remain a valuable source of information, but other data collection methods help fill in a picture of unsheltered homelessness that should guide the delivery of services and solutions. As we prepare for a post-pandemic world, this is an important time to take inventory of all the innovations of the past 15 months, and embrace the opportunity to incorporate them into our work moving forward. The post Disruptions to the 2021 PiT Count: Working to Fill Data Gaps appeared first on National Alliance to End Homelessness. Continue Reading

Congress Wants To Set Up One-Stop Shops To Help Ex-Inmates Stay Out Of Prison

May 25, 2021
Posted in , ,
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., a former prosecutor, is part of a group of lawmakers relaunching an effort to support newly released ex-prisoners. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., a former prosecutor, is part of a group of lawmakers relaunching an effort to support newly released ex-prisoners.; Credit: Tasos Katopodis/Pool/Getty Images
Claudia Grisales | NPR
In an effort to reduce crime among formerly incarcerated individuals, a bipartisan group of Senate and House lawmakers are joining forces to introduce legislation Thursday to create new resource centers to help ex-prisoners get a new start. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and John Cornyn, R-Texas; and House Reps. Karen Bass, D-Calif., and Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa., are launching the proposal to offer new access to housing, medical care, job searches and legal services. Bass and Reschenthaler introduced the One Stop Shop Community Reentry Program Act during the previous legislative session, where it was passed by the House. However, it failed to get traction in the Senate, where it now has a new set of bipartisan sponsors to introduce it for the first time. "This bipartisan legislation would help reduce the chance that people transitioning from incarceration will reoffend by creating resource centers to coordinate access to job training, medical and mental health services, and financial counseling," said Klobuchar, a former prosecutor in her home state. The bill, introduced in the lower chamber last September, passed by a House voice vote in December. Now, its sponsors are hoping new momentum will get the measure over the finish line as policing and criminal justice reform draw closer scrutiny this year. Lawmakers say the plan would reduce offenses among newly released prisoners who struggle without access to critical tools. The national average rate of crime after leaving incarceration, also known as the recidivism rate, is 49.3% during an eight-year period, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission. "Newly released offenders often aren't aware of the resources available to them and struggle to find jobs, housing and mental health services," said Cornyn, a former Texas state attorney general. Justice Department grants to set up the reentry centers would help former inmates get back on their feet, Cornyn added. The centers would also help individuals land jobs, gain job-skill training, obtain driver's licenses, fill out college and student loan applications and receive financial counseling. "The expectation that individuals are successful and won't reoffend after being given $10 and a bus ticket is absolutely ridiculous," said Bass, who is part of another bipartisan group of lawmakers hoping to land a deal on a major policing bill this year. Reschenthaler lauded his bipartisan measure with Bass and other lawmakers, saying he found as a former district judge that the best way to be "tough on crime" is to reduce the rate of recidivism. The plan "will end the revolving door between prison and the streets," Reschenthaler said. Even as vast share of incarcerated individuals — 85% — are eventually released, they still face a long list of obstacles to reintegrate into society, Bass noted. For example, they face additional challenges finding work, places to live and landing quality education. Those shortfalls make it more likely to offend again, the lawmakers said. Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org. This content is from Southern California Public Radio. View the original story at SCPR.org. Continue Reading

HUD Revokes Trump Rule Allowing Transgender Discrimination In Homeless Shelters

May 22, 2021
Posted in , ,
The Biden administration has withdrawn the proposed rule, which would have allowed single-sex shelters to turn away transgender people. Continue Reading

Governor Newsom Issues Proclamation Declaring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 1.15.21

January 15, 2021
Posted in ,

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today issued a proclamation declaring January 15, 2021, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the State of California. The text of the proclamation can be found here and a copy is below: ###

Source

Continue Reading

How the Proposed 2021 California Budget Can Help People Experiencing Homelessness

January 14, 2021
Posted in , ,
After the chaos and violence that ascended upon our nation’s capital last week, it may have been lost in the headlines that the leader of the 5th largest economy in the world unveiled a 2021-2022 budget proposal on Friday. While the announcement may have been overshadowed, the California state budget is more relevant than ever. This is the hopeful year of COVID-19 recovery and rebuilding, and it is critical to know what Governor Gavin Newsom’s priorities are for the Golden State – especially concerning homelessness and housing. Big questions loom: how will the state support schools re-opening, distribute vaccines quickly, prevent renters from being evicted, and get emergency assistance into the hands of hungry families?  And possibly the most important question for those of us focused on the crisis that predates the pandemic: what are the proposed resources for housing and homelessness?

Where Does the Money in California’s Budget Typically Go? 

It is with some relief alongside some extreme caution, that California leaders have a better-than-anticipated budget picture for 2021. A surplus this year is welcomed, but a multi-year deficit, possibly reaching $17 billion, is not too far behind.  Education, health and human services, transportation and corrections/rehabilitation are some of the broad categories that the state allocates most of its general fund dollars to maintain current programs.
Chart from: http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/2021-22/pdf/BudgetSummary/SummaryCharts.pdf

Immediate Action 

Perhaps the most eye-catching part of Newsom’s proposed budget is the $14 billion dollar investments he would like to make into California’s equitable recovery from COVID-19, with immediate action being requested from the legislature in the following areas:
Table from: http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/2021-22/pdf/BudgetSummary/SummaryCharts.pdf

Housing and Homelessness in the Budget 

While the most timely priorities are jumpstarting an economic recovery and safely reinstating in-person education here are a few highlights from the Governor’s budget summary that aim to support those households experiencing homelessness and very low-income Californians: Project Homekey: Last year, the state used a mix of federal, philanthropic, and state dollars to stand up an aggressive motel/hotel acquisition program that is projected to create 6000 new units of permanent and interim housing for COVID-vulnerable homeless Californians. The Governor is proposing $750 million additional dollars to continue the unprecedented success of Project Homekey this year. Housing for Very Vulnerable Populations: The budget proposal includes a one-time allocation of $1 billion for the acquisition and building of housing specifically for people who need behavioral health treatment settings and for low income vulnerable seniors. These could be short-term crisis care settings and long-term care environments often referred to as board and cares or adult residential facilities.  The disappearance of housing specifically for people with complex medical and mental health needs who can no longer live independently has been viewed as a growing crisis statewide. Protecting tenants at risk of eviction: To keep renters who were impacted by the COVID-19 crisis safely housed, the state passed AB 3088, which had provisions that prevented certain types of evictions until January 31, 2021. Due to the ongoing severity of the pandemic, both the governor and key state legislators are immediately calling for an extension of AB 3088. The state and its larger local governments are set to receive a total $2.6 billion of the $25 billion rental relief program administered by the Treasury Department, which could further stabilize at-risk renters. Affordable Housing Programs: Governor Newsom proposes new investments of $500 million in the state’s Infill Infrastructure Grant Program and an additional third round of $500 million in low-income housing tax credits to spur the development of affordable housing and reduce the massive gap in units available for qualifying low-income households. State leaders are also proposing streamlining measures that would make the application and environmental review process faster for these projects.

The Takeaway 

It is no easy task to balance the competing budget priorities of 2021 in a state faced with many urgent issues. The state of California has a lot to juggle, and while housing and homelessness funds are not topping the list of “immediate action” priorities, Governor Newsom has asked the legislature to take early action on Project Homekey. This urgency, combined with the above investments, shows promising steps for the future. One thing is certain – the cure for our housing and homelessness crisis needs to be viewed as a long game: creating reliable, ongoing funding streams, and long-term plans that can be nimble, but still lay out a solution blueprint for the future. Governor Newsom’s 2021 budget proposal embraces the importance of building out physical homes for people to live that can become long-term features of homeless re-housing systems across California. It also confronts the long-neglected issues of licensed care settings that serve highly vulnerable groups who may have been homeless or could easily fall back onto the streets without these intensive interventions. However, the proposed budget continues to default to one-time grants instead of sustained funding that is more comprehensive.  It also includes households loosely defined as “at-risk of homelessness” without targeting the response to people most at risk: those who are already homeless. The Alliance is hopeful that a bridge can be built between the current short-term plans to movements like the Bring California Home Campaign and Roadmap HOME 2030, which together, lay out a bold longer-term plan that would transform the state’s response to housing and homelessness. The time is now. If not now, when? The post How the Proposed 2021 California Budget Can Help People Experiencing Homelessness appeared first on National Alliance to End Homelessness. Continue Reading

California’s 2021 State Budget and Homelessness

January 8, 2021
Posted in ,

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today submitted his 2021-22 State Budget proposal to the Legislature – a $227.2 billion fiscal blueprint that provides funding for immediate COVID-19 response and relief efforts where Californians need it most while making investments for an equitable, inclusive and broad-based economic recovery.

With the end of the COVID-19 pandemic in sight, the Governor’s Budget prioritizes key actions that will urgently help the California families and businesses impacted most.

Source

Continue Reading

Homelessness in 2021: Five Factors to Watch

December 29, 2020
Posted in , ,
As the nation emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, homelessness will continue to be a national crisis. Although the number of people experiencing homelessness is still lower than it was in 2007, homelessness has been increasing since 2016. It is likely that the consequences of the pandemic, a national recession, and deep economic disparities will drive further increases. Despite these obstacles, there will be important opportunities in the year ahead for the mission to end homelessness. The National Alliance to End Homelessness offers the following assessment of the key factors that will affect this work.
  1. What Will We Learn from the COVID-19 Pandemic? COVID-19 forced communities to confront new limitations and innovate through them to keep people safe. Those innovations were all driven by an obvious truth that housing is the basis for health. The question moving forward is whether federal and local leaders will translate that connection into resources and policies to end homelessness. Moreover, as we consider the enormous challenges to shelter systems during the pandemic, it is unclear whether elected officials and systems leaders will re-think their historic reliance on congregate shelter, which was proven to be unsafe and unscalable during the pandemic.
  2. Will the Federal Government Prioritize Homelessness? The Biden Administration and Congress will have immediate opportunities to prioritize homelessness and housing in 2021. This includes appointing key Cabinet officials who are dedicated to evidence-based and equity-based approaches to ending homelessness, including Housing First. It includes advancing a FY 2021 Federal budget that dramatically scales up investments in the McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program. This will be crucial as states and localities deal with lost revenue and diminished budgets following the pandemic. And it includes the Biden Administration’s campaign goal to expand the Housing Choice Voucher program (Section 8) so that more people can afford housing.
  3. How Will the Housing Market Respond? The pandemic has made it obvious that many Americans simply cannot afford the cost of rent. If the rental market continues to soften – especially in higher-cost communities – more people will have access to the units they need, and the flow of people falling into homelessness can more easily be reduced. This will also enhance homelessness system efforts to place people into housing. However, if rents revert to pre-COVID levels in the midst of widespread unemployment and recession, homelessness will not decline. Additionally, the future of commercial real estate represents a major area of uncertainty. If vacant offices, retail spaces, and hotels and motels, can be converted into affordable housing, communities will have a dramatically renewed capacity to end people’s homelessness.
  4. Will the Nation Address Inequity? Awareness of racial and economic inequity made it to the forefront of the American consciousness in 2020. It remains to be seen whether the nation will extend this awareness to housing and homelessness. This would require leaders to address historic injustices and reverse discriminatory housing policies. Meanwhile, systems leaders and providers must continue to identify and address inequitable policies and outcomes in their own work. Although racial disparities have been at the center of this discussion to date, it will be essential that these efforts extend to disparities among other populations at increased risk of homelessness. This includes gender minorities, people with disabilities, and returning citizens.
  5. Can We Target Emerging “Age Waves”? Demographic data shows that homelessness is on the rise among two distinct age groups: people who are very old, and people who are relatively young. Efforts to serve these groups will depend upon the ability to define and fund targeted strategies for each. Older individuals experiencing homelessness not only face dramatically higher health vulnerabilities, but also will amass especially high health care costs associated with their homelessness. Meanwhile, younger people experiencing homelessness must be connected to housing and employment now, despite the economic recession. Without these connections, their likelihood of prolonged detachment from the workforce will directly impact their risk of homelessness over the long term.
The post Homelessness in 2021: Five Factors to Watch appeared first on National Alliance to End Homelessness. Continue Reading

Politics Chat: Two Unemployment Benefits Expired, With More To Follow

December 27, 2020
Posted in , ,
Mara Liasson | NPR
With another COVID-19 relief bill awaiting his signature or veto, what's President Trump's end game? A new Congress begins Jan. 3, a new president in 24 days, and millions of Americans are struggling. Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org. This content is from Southern California Public Radio. View the original story at SCPR.org. Continue Reading