Through increased time and support, legislation would lessen the ramifications of board and care facility closures
Sacramento, CA—Legislation authored by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) to mitigate the impact of Adult Residential Facility (ARF) closures and help support residents at risk of homelessness passed the Senate floor today. Assembly Bill 2377 would allow local governments the first opportunity to purchase ARF facilities in order to prevent closures and would require ARF owners to give residents more time and help with relocation should a facility close.
“In the wake of COVID-19, Adult Residential Facility closures will leave already vulnerable residents at risk of homelessness and harm our public health efforts,” said Assemblymember Chiu. “Giving cities more tools to stop these closures can go a long way towards ensuring residents are housed and are cared for.”
"Board and Care facilities provide for some of our most vulnerable residents and have been closing at alarming rates," said San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed, the bill sponsor of AB 2377. "We are doing everything we can to make it more affordable for these facilities to operate and we need to make sure that when these closures happen, we have a plan for the residents they serve so they continue to get the care they need. AB 2377 is critical to making sure that happens, and I want to thank Assemblymember Chiu for his leadership at the state level on this issue."
Adult Residential Facilities house and provide around-the-clock services to individuals ages 18-59, who are not able to live independently due to serious mental illness or other chronic conditions. ARFs fall under the broader umbrella of “board and care” facilities, which also includes Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFE) serving adults 60 years and older.
Board and cares are licensed by the state and can be operated by private individuals, non-profits, or public entities. There are approximately 6,600 ARFs and 7,300 RCFEs currently operating in California. Under current law, ARFs have far fewer closure requirements than RCFEs. This leaves a vulnerable group of people without the resources, time, and wherewithal to secure a new place to live when an ARF closes.
To try to prevent a facility closure, AB 2377 would give local governments the first opportunity to purchase an ARF that is closing. The legislation would also allow local governments to use all state, federal, and local sources of mental health and homelessness prevention funds to buy and operate ARFs.
The bill would enact a set of requirements ARF owners must comply with before closing a facility. Those requirements include 180 days of notice for residents prior to closure, a personalized patient analysis with relocation recommendations and a closure plan submitted to the California Department of Social Services for review. A recently passed budget trailer bill now requires ARF owners to give local governments 180 days of notice prior to closure.
ARF facilities are closing at an alarming rate throughout California due to low reimbursement rates, staffing shortages, and high real estate prices. In the past year alone, Los Angeles lost more that 200 beds for low-income people with serious mental illnesses. San Francisco lost 43 facilities between 2012 and 2019.
Due to the state’s housing crisis and the vulnerable nature of the population ARFs serve, these residents are increasingly likely to experience homelessness once a facility closes. Localities have tried mightily to keep ARFs afloat by providing them with additional “patch funding” to help cover costs. Giving local governments the first right to purchase and flexible funding sources may help to prevent these vital facilities closing and potentially leaving residents unhoused.
AB 2377 will now move on for a vote on the Assembly floor.