Accountability without ongoing funding not a solution to homelessness
The League of California Cities formally voiced its concerns about a bill that would create new accountability requirements for the state’s flagship homelessness funding program for local governments.
AB 799 (Rivas, Luz) would direct most Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention (HHAP) investments to permanent housing interventions. It would also require the creation of regional homelessness action plans and require the California Interagency Council on Homelessness to develop a financing plan to end homelessness by 2035.
Cal Cities has significant concerns about the bill’s accountability measures, as it fails to expand or develop cities’ capacity to address immediate homelessness challenges. The bill does not include ongoing funding to support the increase in responsibilities for cities.
Moreover, cities are already accountable for all the public money they spend to house Californians and connect them to supportive services.
AB 799 also contains a provision that would require applicants to invest in three permanent housing interventions for each interim housing intervention. This narrow focus would undermine the HHAP program’s effectiveness. HHAP is successful because it allows cities to take a flexible approach to reducing homelessness based on the unique needs of their community.
Cal Cities shared cities’ concerns with the author and bill’s sponsors throughout the year, emphasizing the need to pair reasonable accountability metrics with ongoing funding. Since late 2022, Cal Cities has called on Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature to invest $3 billion annually to address homelessness and boost the supply of affordable housing.
The Legislature’s proposed budget includes an additional $1 billion to address homelessness, but zero ongoing funding. A diverse group of stakeholders — including local government representatives, housing advocates, homelessness service providers, business leaders, and lawmakers — agree that cities need ongoing funding to develop the ambitious plans needed to end this crisis.
Providing more supportive services — particularly behavioral health care — has become a big topic in the Legislature. Cal Cities is also evaluating two significantly amended measures that would implement the Governor’s proposed mental health services modernization. These measures seek to build behavioral health housing and workforce capacity. Cal Cities supported the initial proposal in concept.
For questions or more information, please contact Legislative Affairs Lobbyist Caroline Cirrincione.