Senate Approves No Place Like Home

Jun 27, 2016
The Assembly is expected to take action on Thursday before the Legislature breaks for summer recess.

Unlike most budget-related bills, AB 1618 needs agreement from two-thirds of both houses of the Legislature because it amended the Mental Health Service Act (Proposition 63, 2004), and therefore was more difficult to pass. After about a week of negotiations, an agreement was reached and the bill was approved in the Senate with strong bipartisan support. The agreement called for amendments to strengthen transparency and accountability requirements for the use of Prop. 63 funds. These funds have proven difficult to track and the amendments will ensure that the funds are being used for what they were intended.
The program, which the League has supported since early this year, will further the development of permanent supportive housing for persons who are in need of mental health services and are homeless, chronically homeless, or at risk of homelessness. The Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) will administer the program. It will provide $2 billion from a revenue bond supported by Prop. 63 funds for a competitive program among counties to finance capital costs for permanent supportive housing. Of that amount, $200 million will be allocated among all counties of the state based on the number of homeless in the county and minimum funding levels needed for a permanent supportive housing development. 
The remaining $1.8 billion will be awarded as deferred payment loans to counties, as the sole or joint applicant, for projects that integrate the homeless population with the general public. The county must agree to provide mental health supportive services and referrals to other services for a period of at least 20 years. The county must also have a developed county plan to combat homelessness. For counties with more than 5 percent of the state’s homeless population, HCD may establish an alternative process for allocating funds that allows the county to directly administer the loan funds.
The No Place Like Home Program Advisory Committee will be established to assist and advise HCD on the implementation and review of the program. One member of the 14 member committee will be an administrative officer of a city, to be appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown. In addition to advising HCD on the implementation of the program, making recommendations on program guidelines, and reviewing progress in distributing the money, the advisory committee will provide advice and guidance more broadly on statewide homelessness issues.
The new transparency and accountability requirements included in the most recent version of the legislation include:
  • Requires the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to revise county annual revenue and expenditure reporting requirements, in consultation with county representatives, to ensure timely, accurate, and consistent data;
  • Requires counties to certify the accuracy of the data they submit to DHCS;
  • Permits DHCS to withhold funds from counties that fail to comply with reporting requirements;
  • Requires DHCS to regularly conduct county program reviews (as related to the requirements of the existing performance contracts) and to post on its website findings from these reviews and county plans of corrections when deficiencies are identified;
  • Requires DHCS to post and summarize county performance outcomes; and
  • Requires that at least one appointee to the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission have a background in auditing. 
Governor Signs Main Budget Package but More Work Yet to be Done
Also on Monday, Governor Brown signed the main budget bill and trailer bills sent to him on June 15 and June 16. In a departure from the norm, the Governor did not line item veto any appropriations. However, work on the budget is not complete.
There remains to be discussion regarding other trailer bills and budget items. There may be some additional votes this week on trailer bills, including on the No Place Like Home program and a short term fix to the California Beverage Container recycling and Litter Reduction Act (Bottle Bill). However, negotiations on other items, including the Governor’s By Right budget proposal, are likely to extend into August.