Spring has been an active time for Brilliant Corners’ advocacy work. Over the last few months, Brilliant Corners has continued its active support of AB 71, the Bring California Home Act, as as well as the efforts to ensure full funding for Measure J, a ballot measure passed last fall in LA County that will provide the tools to address the longstanding racial disparities and inadequate community investments in the most underserved and impacted LA County communities. Additionally, we have supported various bills, calls to action, and legislative proposals that advance the homeless response system’s collective capacity to expand housing access through a lens of equity. We have outlined below the state and local advocacy initiatives that we are currently pursuing that align with our mission to end homelessness.
Brilliant Corners has continued to build collective momentum in support of the Bring California Home Act, also known as AB 71. AB 71 seeks to reform the state’s response to homelessness by restructuring the state’s role in preventing and solving homelessness through an annual investment of $2.4 billion. It would fill gaps within the state’s response and will scale evidence-based solutions, while promoting innovations to move people quickly into permanent housing. In late April, Stephany Ashley, our Director of Supportive Housing in Northern California, testified at the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee in support of AB 71. Stephany shared our support for permanent supportive housing solutions to end homelessness and shared the impact our housing services provided to a San Francisco client. You can watch the recording of Stephany’s testimony here. Even though AB 71 has now been held for the year, we are working with the Bring California Home coalition to shift to a potential ballot measure, as well advocating for components of AB 71 to be included in trailer bill language for the Homeless Housing and Assistance Program, in alignment with goals to significantly reduce homelessness and racial disparities in access to housing and build the strong systems and capacity we need to end homelessness in California.
After Brilliant Corners’ participation in the Measure J subcommittee process, during which we provided input around housing, health, and reentry issues, we have continued to attend and provide comment during weekly Measure J Advisory Committee meetings throughout the spring. On June 3, 2021, the Advisory Committee passed and finalized its year one (FY 2021-22) spending plan totaling $170.9M, which notably included recommendations to allocate $11.25M to expand Housing for Health’s Permanent Supportive Housing program and $2.5M to expand Breaking Barriers. The LA County CEO has only allocated $100M toward Measure J in the initial proposed budget for next fiscal year, so it remains to be seen how and if the Board of Supervisors will adopt the full $170.9M Measure J spending plan. Brilliant Corners, as part of the Reimagine LA Coalition, continues to engage in broader budget advocacy to identify other streams of funding that can supplement Measure J recommendations, such as federal American Recovery Plan dollars.
At the State Level
Expanding Access to Housing for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
In the disability rights sector, Brilliant Corners joined our long-time partners the Lanterman Housing Alliance, The Kelsey, California SCDD and others in support of expanding the Multifamily Housing Program (MHP). This measure calls for one-time funding from the California State General Fund to address the crisis of need within the Intellectual and Developmental Disability Community for Affordable Housing. By providing additional funds to MHP in one-time funding to be allocated within the program to housing for people with disabilities, the state will have made important progress on meeting the housing needs of adults with disabilities and ensure that as the state builds up its affordable housing stock that is accessible and inclusive to more Californians.
We were also heartened to learn of the Newsom Administration’s announcement of a major investment into California’s Home and Community-Based Service (HCBS) plan. Through this one-time funding, the Department of Developmental Services has set aside $150 Million for affordable housing funding to support the I/DD community. We joined the Lanterman Housing Alliance in providing a response to DDS on the funding priorities, lauding the funding for rental subsidies (a long-time advocacy priority of our work with the I/DD community), and providing guidance to ensure that capital funding has maximum flexibility for effective creation and preservation of housing resources.
Medi-Cal Housing Support Benefit
Brilliant Corners joins partner Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) in calling for the Medi-Cal Housing Support Benefit: a Medi-Cal benefit to fund services for people experiencing homelessness. Unlike the CalAIM proposal, this budget proposal will offer a sustainable, consistent, statewide approach to receiving federal funding for homeless services. The budget proposal calls for a $20M grant program to build capacity among homeless service providers to receive Medi-Cal reimbursement, completion of an assessment of capacity to provide a benefit’s services, and requires DHCS to seek federal approval for a benefit by January 2024. From issuing letters of support to meeting with local members of the Assembly, we are committed to supporting this impactful proposal.
We also supported the following Assembly bills:
Advocating for a reinvestment in alternatives rooted in care over incarceration: Brilliant Corners along with our partner CSH recommended the passage AB 328. AB 328 aims to redirect 80% of this funding to the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) to provide grants to counties, homeless Continuums of Care, and mission-driven non-profit community-based organizations, to funding for housing, for evidence-based services, and workforce development for formerly incarcerated people experiencing homelessness. The bill would use savings from prison closures to fund housing and services for people exiting the justice system. As an operator of programs that work at the intersection of housing and reentry, Brilliant Corners believes in innovative solutions and the reinvestment of funding that would have otherwise been spent on prisons closing responsibly in ending homelessness among formerly incarcerated people.
Advocating for more data and analysis to make our state resources more effective: Brilliant Corners supported Assembly Bill 1575, which would require the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council to perform a needs/gaps analysis for the State of California. This analysis would inform the State how to invest to achieve significant reductions in homelessness statewide. These data will be critical to informing the Governor and Legislature on how to spend State dollars more effectively and help the State and our local partners set realistic outcomes and benchmarks. It also minimizes the costs of an analysis by extrapolating data, largely from existing sources, and in prioritizing HUD-funded technical assistance, while also considering the geographically diverse nature of our state. AB1575 will allow the Administration and Legislature to be able to better prioritize and fund specific interventions, making State resources more responsive to urgent needs.
Advocating for reducing homelessness by 90% by 2030: Assembly Bill 816 charges the state and local governments with reducing homelessness 90% by 2030 through action-oriented, enforceable plans. The measure issues a clear call to use all available tools and resources to address this public health and humanitarian. AB816 requires action at both the state and local levels to reduce homelessness in a measurable way. The bill sets up a process for state agencies, local governments, and private partners to collaborate, and it holds all levels of government accountable for meeting their commitments.
Recognizing the need for a centralized point of contact for homelessness: AB 1220 establishes a single point of contact on homelessness at the state level, by creating a Secretary on Homelessness, who will oversee all homelessness programs that would continue to be managed by existing entities. By placing the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council within the Governor’s Office, the state can ensure proper authority exists to effectively coordinate and hold the state accountable for its response to addressing homelessness.
Advocating for the creation of Housing Acquisition and Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Program: SB 490 would further Brilliant Corners’ goal of providing safe and stable housing options to people in need to provide expertise and guidance on how to acquire and preserve unsubsidized rental housing as permanent, deed-restricted affordable housing.
At the local level
In the Housing Development sector, we joined Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing (SCANPH) in their challenging of two LA City Council motions that sought to rescind funding from Proposition HHH-awarded affordable housing development projects. Following the injunction issued by federal Judge David O. Carter, which included an investigation of all developers currently receiving Proposition HHH funds, we shared SCANPH and other partners’ concern about the injunction’s worrisome implications around HHH funding and the potential impact on housing development projects in the pipeline.
Soon after the release of Judge Carter’s injunction, Councilmember Lee issued a motion to rescind HHH funding for a project in his district, followed soon by a broader motion from Councilmember De Leon which called on the city to explore options for the clawback of HHH funds from projects nearing construction. This clawback of funds would set a dangerous precedent for organizations like Brilliant Corners and dozens of other HHH-funded developers throughout the City of Los Angeles. We responded by issuing letters of opposition to Council Member Lee and Council Member De Leon’s motions to the Council Homelessness and Poverty Committee members.