This summer was an energizing season for Brilliant Corners’ advocacy efforts. Over the past few months, we supported various housing and homelessness initiatives at the federal, state, and local level, and engaged in in-person advocacy opportunities with community members and stakeholders at the national and local level. Brilliant Corners has pursued opportunities to make housing more accessible and reduce the barriers to housing for our unhoused neighbors and justice-impacted individuals. Below, we recap the advocacy initiatives that we are currently pursuing that align with our mission.
At the Federal Level
In July, several members of our team traveled to Washington, D.C. for the 2022 National Conference on Ending Homelessness, convened by NAEH. The conference brought together people across the sector including service providers, advocates, people with lived experience of homelessness, and others to learn from each other, discuss best practices, and share new innovations in the field. Participants also attended workshops and plenaries to discuss issues across the housing and homelessness sectors.
We also joined the National Low Income Housing Coalition and Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding (CHCDF) to sign onto a joint letter urging Congress to enact final Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 spending bills that provide the highest level of funding possible for vital federal programs that provide housing assistance and community development resources to aid low-income households.
At the State Level
We joined coalition partners from Bring CA Home, a coalition of homelessness advocates, governments, nonprofits, affordable housing providers, and grassroots community organizations dedicated to reversing the cycle of homelessness in California, to welcome the launch of a new educational website and initiative, Homlessness is a Policy Choice. This new site will serve as a resource for journalists, elected officials, and community members, who want to learn more about the structural causes behind the homelessness crisis, and how smart and informed policy choices can address it.
We took action to sign a joint letter of opposition for proposed changes to California’s Housing First Laws to Allow Funding to Sober Living Homes. The trailer bill language would exempt sober living homes funded by the Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) from complying with the core elements of California’s Housing First law. Specifically, it would allow CDCR-funded programs to evict tenants if the program staff believe the tenant is not participating adequately in a program or if the tenant relapses.
We mobilized with community partners to participate in a Housing California twitter storm to advocate for greater investments in housing and homelessness in the 2022-23 California State Budget, and lift up important items for Governor Newsom, Assembly Speaker Rendon, Senate President pro Tempore Atkins, and reporters who follow housing, homelessness, the budget, and Sacramento.
Last Spring, we joined our partners at Housing CA to advocate in support of the 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 are happy to share that many of these bills passed through the Senate and Assembly and made their way to the Governor’s desk for signature.
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 June we encouraged our staff to make calls to urge legislators to support this bill. AB 2817 passed through the Senate and Assembly and is waiting for a decision from the Governor.
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. This bill also made it through the Senate and is on the way to the governor’s desk.
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. This bill moved through the Senate and is currently waiting for a decision from our Governor.
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. This bill was signed by the governor.
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 June, Brilliant Corners submitted a recommendation to increase funding for our Breaking Barriers program through Care First Community Investment. The CFCI Advisory Committee ranked recommendations for the Year 2 budget allocation, and hosted a series of meetings to determine final funding recommendations. Our team attended the CFCI Advisory Committees in June and July, urging the CFCI Advisory Body to support funding for our Breaking Barriers program, as well as The Office of Diversion and Reentry’s Permanent Supportive Housing program. We shared how ODR has proved to be a successful program to divert community members with mental health challenges out of the carceral system.
In June, the Re-Imagine LA Coalition, Los Angeles Youth Uprising, and Justice LA organized an in-person action to demand that the Board of Supervisors fully fund a Care First budget and invest in community-based programs and alternatives to incarceration. Brilliant Corners supported outreach efforts, helping draft and share a press release with newsrooms and calling news desks on the morning of. We attended the Care First Budget rally where speakers from each organization uplifted five demands: funding Measure J at $900 million annually, allocating $150 million for youth, increasing investments in mental health beds and pretrial services, and decreasing sheriff and probation budgets.
We also participated in a video call to action organized by Reimagine LA. The video encourages people to demand the county fully invest in the Care First Budget. You can watch the video here.
Fair Chance Housing Ordinance
Our campaign to bring about the Fair Chance Housing Ordinance, which would give equal access in the housing application process to people in LA County who have experienced incarceration, continues to move forward. We are currently working with three of the Board of Supervisors’ offices and are in the coalition-building stage of our process.
We are actively seeking community participation to join our efforts to ensure that our community members who have experienced incarceration have equal access to housing in LA County. Ways that you can join include:
- If you know of people in our community who have experienced discrimination and exclusion to housing because of their criminal history, please share any information as appropriate so we can begin to gather personal examples and stories. There is nothing more powerful than a narrative built around actual experiences of our community members.
- If you know of organizations that should be part of the Fair Chance Housing Coalition, please let us know. We want to build a strong, diverse and broad coalition as we begin to engage other stakeholders in LA County.
- We would also love to hear your thoughts on this issue. How do you feel about people being excluded from housing because of their past? We’d especially like to hear from those of you that work directly with clients and have experienced barriers as a result of this issue in your work.
If you would like to learn more about this or want to participate in any way, please reach out to our Housing Justice Manager, Jose Osuna, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On July 11 -16, the Long Beach Community Action Partnership (LBCAP) Alliance held their first inaugural Long Beach Reentry Week. LBCAP Alliance is a grassroots organization that provides resources to the formerly incarcerated community in the city. Jose Osuna, Brilliant Corners’ Housing Justice Manager, was proud to take a leading role in Long Beach’s (his hometown) first Reentry Week to highlight the available services and resources for our community. Reentry Week connects justice-impacted individuals and their families to resources, increases awareness of the barriers formerly incarcerated community members face coming home to Long Beach, and ultimately breaks down the stigma of incarceration. The event was coordinated to bring awareness to resources for formerly incarcerated individuals and educate the community on the traumas of incarceration.
Jose Osuna organized and introduced the opening panel, Reentry vs. Recidivism: How Long Beach Can Do Better, featuring panelists and a moderator that have all experienced incarceration and the challenges they faced when they came home, including homelessness. He also moderated a virtual fireside chat with the two candidates for Mayor of Long Beach, Suzie Price and Rex Richardson, both who are current members of the Long Beach City Council, and helped organize another panel called “Coming Home” – a discussion of the reality of housing after incarceration in Long Beach.
If you did not have a chance to join Reentry Week this year, LBCAP offers resources and events throughout the year around reentry efforts. They provide resources on education, housing, job development and so much more to support returning citizens as they adjust back into the community. You can also check out this great article by The Signal Tribune recapping Reentry Week.