This spring has been a busy season for Brilliant Corners’ advocacy efforts. Over the past few months, we pursued over 20 advocacy initiatives across housing and homelessness on the federal, state, and local level. From community engagement to legislative advocacy, Brilliant Corners has taken action on a wide range of advocacy opportunities to make housing more accessible, increase funding for permanent supportive housing, and reduce the barriers to housing. We have outlined the advocacy initiatives that we are currently pursuing that align with our mission to end homelessness.
At the Federal Level
We joined the National Housing & Rehabilitation Association (NH&RA) along with several other coalition partners to sign onto the Campaign for Housing and Community Development’s (CHCDF) Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 funding letter to Congress. The letter called for the highest allocation of discretionary funds possible for affordable housing and community development programs that provide housing assistance and community development resources to aid low-income households.
Alongside our partners at the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, we signed onto a joint letter in support of the Eviction Crisis Act (S.2182), introduced by Senators Michael Bennet and Rob Portman, and its House companion, the Stable Families Act from Representative Ritchie Torres. The Eviction Crisis Act would create a permanent emergency rental assistance program that builds on the many successes and lessons learned from the historic efforts by Congress to keep renters stably housed during the pandemic and to protect individuals, families, and communities from the devastating impacts of eviction. When enacted, the bill would create a permanent resource to provide direct financial assistance and stability services to low-income households facing an unexpected economic shock to ensure these households are stabilized quickly and effectively before facing the risk of eviction and, in worst cases, homelessness.
At the State Level
We joined our partners at CSH and Housing CA to advocate in support of the Homeless Services Development Workforce bill. Our Housing Justice Manager, Jose Osuna, met with the California Interagency Council on Homelessness (Cal ICH) and urged them to center the nonprofit workforce, voicing our support of the proposed supplemental funding to the HHAP Program to address the workforce crisis within the homelessness services workforce.
Brilliant Corners is actively supporting the following seven Assembly and Senate bills that would reduce the barriers to access to housing and support the development of affordable and supportive housing units. We were happy to learn that 8 of the 9 Housing California and Roadmap Home-aligned bills that we expressed our support for have passed their respective policy committees and are headed to the Appropriations Committee.
AB 2817 establishes the Housing California Challenge Program, which would authorize the Health and Human Services agency to provide rental assistance to people experiencing homelessness, and grants to local jurisdictions and service providers to connect people to housing and rental assistance. In addition to issuing support letters, our CEO Bill Pickel provided a witness testimony before the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee in April. You can watch Bill providing powerful testimony on our Facebook page here.
AB 1816 would create a competitive Reentry Housing & Workforce Development Grant Program to fund evidence-based housing, support services, and workforce development programs for people who were formerly incarcerated in state prisons and who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness. Given our focus on housing justice, this bill is a key priority, but unfortunately this bill will not be moving forward in this current legislative cycle. We will continue to support reentry workforce efforts and future opportunities to move this policy proposal forward.
AB 1961 would require the Department of Housing and Community Development to create a statewide database of affordable housing listings, information, and applications, in coordination with state and local partners. This portal would benefit low-income applicants and property managers in matching tenants, screening and replying to applications, and keeping updated listings of affordable housing units.
AB 2325 would require the California Prison Oversight Board to examine the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s efforts to address the housing needs of persons recently released from custody, including those who are identified with serious mental health needs.
AB 2334 builds on the improvements in density bonus law provided under AB 1763 by creating another opportunity for 100% affordable housing developments to earn enhanced density bonus in location-efficient areas, defined by low vehicle miles traveled. AB 2334 addresses the housing affordability crisis and furthers environmental sustainability goals by increasing the universe of sites available for affordable housing developments.
SB 914 would reduce gender bias and disparities in outcomes in California’s response to homelessness by embedding a focus on domestic violence survivors and other vulnerable populations into local homelessness plans. We joined our partner Downtown Women’s Center to echo our support of this important legislation.
SB 948 would allow the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) to establish a pool of transition reserves, rather than requiring each affordable housing development to hold transition reserves for their tenants with vouchers. This would provide cost-savings for developments ranging from $200,000 to $3 million.
We also signed a letter of support in collaboration with our partner CSH for ACA 12/The Hope Act, which would establish a ten-year funding commitment in the CA Constitution that dedicates five percent from the state’s general fund, each year, to the state’s affordable housing and homelessness crisis. Investments will be based on a funding strategy with specific accountability metrics to measure outcomes and progress.
At the Local Level
Care First Community Investment (Formerly known as Measure J)
Brilliant Corners continues to take ongoing action to voice support and recommendations for fully funding Measure J and the Care First vision in Los Angeles. In our last update, we mentioned that the CFCI Advisory Committee would begin accepting recommendations for the Year 2 budget allocation and engage community members in the upcoming months.
While there have been many challenges in implementing a true participatory budgeting process to allocate CFCI dollars, our partners on Reimagine LA’s Budget Advocacy Subcommittee continue to advocate for an inclusive community process designed for community members and allies to join the effort to reinvest and transform LA County, and to collaborate on how the $100 million in Year 2 funds are allocated.
Also on the LA County level, Brilliant Corners mobilized to share our feedback on the Board of Supervisors’ motion to Implement the Recommendations of the Blue-Ribbon Commission on Homelessness and the motion to Implement a New Framework to End Homelessness in Los Angeles. We recommended that the Board take necessary steps to align their recommendations with the County Homelessness Initiative and their Homeless Strategy Reassessment/Framework rather than create a new County entity, or to elevate the Homeless Initiative to the new County entity and/or formally empower and center the Homelessness Initiative in the development and implementation of the recommendations. We also voiced our strong support of the motion to Implement a New Framework to End Homelessness as proposed and urged Supervisor Solis to vote yes for the motion, without any additional amendments – specifically the amendment for Measure H funding to go directly toward the Sheriff’s Homeless Outreach Services Team and other police departments that partner with HOST.
Rally to Close Men’s Central Jail
Our Housing Justice Manager, Jose Osuna, was invited to join our community partners JusticeLA and Dignity and Power Now at a rally to advocate for the LA County Board of Supervisors to follow through on the plan to close Men’s Central Jail. Jose shared his own story and called on the Supervisors to make good on their commitment to close MCJ. You can read more about the rally and the proposal to close MCJ, which was issued by a workgroup led by our partners at the LA County Office of Diversion and Reentry (ODR), here. Closing MCJ would mean fully investing in pretrial services, permanent supportive housing, and more mental health beds for folks who are identified as eligible for mental health diversion out of jail settings. It would also mean an expansion of ODR’s housing program, and overall the plan affirms that permanent supportive housing is the solution, not incarceration.
United to House LA Campaign
We joined the United to House LA Campaign as an endorsing organization. This campaign in the City of Los Angeles seeks a ballot measure in November 2022 to reduce homelessness, build more affordable homes, protect seniors and veterans from losing their homes, and create new jobs through a real estate transfer assessment. We administered a petition-gathering effort at our office and in the community, and are pleased to share that United to House LA met its petition threshold, and the measure will now be included in the November City of LA ballot!
Fair Chance Housing Initiative
As we shared with you in our Winter Advocacy Update, the Fair Chance Housing Initiative is a continuation of the work that began with the Ban the Box campaign in 2010, when advocates mobilized in LA City and County to make it illegal to ask about incarceration in order to remove the barriers to gaining employment and access to housing for people exiting the justice system. Ultimately, the Ban the Box campaign shifted their efforts to focus on employment. Now, the Fair Chance Housing Initiative for LA County campaign will pick up the Ban the Box efforts but with a focus on housing accessibility. Brilliant Corners is in conversation with several reentry and housing partners on this campaign, which will ultimately seek an LA County Ordinance to make it illegal to ask about incarceration on housing applications. We’re also excited to see that the LA City Council recently introduced a similar measure to remove barriers to housing for applicants.
We’re building a coalition of reentry and housing providers that are aligned with this effort, and will look to summer 2022 for broader organizing and engagement without internal and external stakeholders. We’re excited to share upcoming opportunities for staff, clients, and our network of landlord partners to join this important campaign.