Bill to Tackle Homelessness Passes Legislature

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

AB 74 - The Housing for a Healthy California Program - pays for the cost of housing homeless individuals on Medi-Cal

Sacramento, CA—Today Assembly Bill 74, a bill by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) that aligns housing and health care resources to fight homelessness, passed the Assembly on concurrence and now heads to the Governor’s desk. Assembly Bill 74 addresses the housing affordability crisis by taking an innovative approach to helping individuals who are chronically homeless.

“No one should have to live on the streets of the Golden State. But California is home to twenty percent of the nation’s homeless population and one-third of the nation’s chronically homeless population. We need to bring significant and innovative solutions to address this crisis,”  said Assemblymember Chiu, Chair of the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee. “AB 74 shifts the paradigm for how we tackle homelessness among people who have been without a roof for far too long.”

Californians experiencing long-term homelessness face a combination of chronic medical, mental health, and substance abuse conditions. They are often frequent users of hospitals and the justice system, and incur disproportionate Medi-Cal costs. Their inability to access preventive and regular care harms their health and often shaves years off their lives. Study after study show supportive housing decreases emergency department visits, hospital inpatient stays, nursing home days, and psychiatric inpatient admissions, saving $3,841 to over $24,000 per beneficiary, above the costs of housing and services.

The Housing for a Healthy California Program aligns federal and state funding to provide supportive housing to chronically, homeless Medi-Cal recipients. The goal of the program is to reduce the health care costs of chronically homeless individuals on Medi-Cal by paying for them to be housed and providing the services they need to remain housed. Federal funding from the federal Housing Trust Fund will be used to build the housing and provide rental assistance while services will be paid for through the Whole Person Care pilot program, Health Homes, or some other county-controlled funding source. The program will track changes in the health care and housing costs of participants to determine the effectiveness of the program.   

“The strong leadership of Assemblymember Chiu and his staff led to AB 74 receiving unanimous support in the Legislature,” said Sharon L. Rapport, Associate Director, California Policy for the Corporation for Supportive Housing. “Our lawmakers recognize that Housing for a Healthy California will foster effective partnerships between our housing and Medi-Cal agencies, resulting in better outcomes for individuals facing a number of health-related challenges and housing uncertainty. Having a home of their own will provide the stability they need to pursue regular, preventive and effective care and that means healthier people and lower costs.”

“Housing California commends lawmakers for bipartisan support of the Housing for a Healthy California Program that will save lives and health care dollars by helping people experiencing homelessness and health instability move to supportive housing,” said Lisa Hershey

Executive Director of Housing California. “AB 74 exemplifies smart policy that both fosters federal, state and local partnership in ending homelessness, and adopts a system to track the impact of this innovative model."

AB 74 now heads to the Governor, who has until October 15 to act on it.

The passage of AB 74 comes as the Legislature prepares to vote this week on a package of bills to take on California’s housing affordability crisis by funding more affordable housing and streamlining the creation of housing, among other efforts.

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Assemblymember David Chiu (D – San Francisco) is the Chair of the Housing & Community Development Committee of the California State Assembly. He represents the 17th Assembly District, which encompasses eastern San Francisco.

CONTACT: Judson True, judson.true@asm.ca.gov, 916.319.2017