Governor Brown Signs Assemblymember David Chiu Bill to Tackle Homelessness

Saturday, October 14, 2017

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

SACRAMENTO — Governor Brown today signed a bill by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) that aims to change the way California tackles homelessness. Assembly Bill 74 creates the Housing for a Healthy California Program, which will align housing and health care resources to fight homelessness by taking an innovative approach to helping individuals who are chronically homeless. The bill takes effect on January 1, 2018.

“California is home to twenty percent of the nation’s homeless population and one-third of the nation’s chronically homeless population. I’m gratified that Governor Brown is helping to advance significant and innovative solutions to address this crisis,” said Assemblymember Chiu, Chair of the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee. “This new program 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 stays, 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.   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 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.  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, a co-sponsor of the bill. “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, a co-sponsor of the bill. “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."

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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.