Governor signs package of bills targeting homelessness

Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — Gov. Gavin Newsom, alongside Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and L.A. County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda Solis, signed a legislative package Sept. 29 aimed at reducing the state’s homelessness crisis by expanding mental health services and behavioral health housing.

We can’t nibble around the edges of the homelessness crisis, we need to implement bold, transformative solutions — investing more money than ever before to get folks off the street and provide the mental health and other services they need to stay off the streets,” Newsom said.

Today’s legislation, along with our overall $22 billion housing affordability and homelessness package, will move the needle on creating more housing for the homeless and will allow us to tackle the homelessness crisis in ways California has never done.”

The package includes a bill introduced by Assemblywoman Luz Rivas, D-Arleta, to reform the Homeless Coordinating and Financial Council into the California Interagency Council on Homelessness and improve its power through data mandates and oversight authorities.

The council will be co-chaired by California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly, and Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramirez.

Newsom also signed legislation introduced by Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel, D-Encino, to implement California’ Homeless Management Information System’s new data mandates, which will allow policymakers to track and evaluate how homelessness funding makes an impact throughout the state.

This will allow us to do data-driven policymaking and make sure that we are getting resources out the door in an effective and efficient manner to help those who are suffering on our streets,” Ramirez said.

Newsom signed a total of seven bills, which are part of a total $22 billion invested in the homelessness and affordable housing crisis. The Governor’s Office says the funding will help create more than 84,000 affordable homes in the state, including more than 44,000 new housing units and treatment beds for people transitioning out of homelessness. The funding also includes $5.8 billion for Project Homekey, the state’s initiative to buy motels and apartment buildings to house homeless residents.

The bills Newsom signed include:

Assembly Bill 27 to identify homeless children and youth enrolled at each school through a housing questionnaire that will be administered.

• Assembly Bill 362 to require cities and counties to inspect shelters that receive complaints from an occupant alleging substandard conditions and require the owner or operator to correct any violation.

• Assembly Bill 816 to require the Department of Housing and Community Development to prioritize funding for projects that serve people experiencing homelessness.

Assembly Bill 1443 to authorize a county to develop training related to the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, which provides for the involuntary detention and treatment of people with mental health disorders who are a danger to themselves or others.

• And Senate Bill 400 to require a liaison for homeless children of a local educational agency to ensure outreach and coordination activities with other organizations and the referral of services to homeless families and homeless children.

According to the 2020 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, we have about 14,000 unhoused residents living with serious mental illness and over 5,000 have developmental disabilities, nearly 11,000 have physical disabilities and another 15,000 are suffering from substance abuse disorder,” Solis said.

Los Angeles County had about 66,000 homeless people before the pandemic began.

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