Brilliant Corners has actively advocated for a multitude of legislative actions, all geared towards housing justice and ensuring funding and commitment for long-term solutions to homelessness. During the pandemic, a cornerstone of Brilliant Corners’ response has been our commitment to advocate for the resources needed to scale supportive housing solutions during and after COVID-19. But even prior to the pandemic, Brilliant Corners used its platform to support myriad bills, calls to action, and legislative proposals which advance the homeless response system’s collective capacity to continue our mission-driven work. It is more important than ever that Brilliant Corners use its voice to call for policies that align with our mission to end homelessness. We have outlined the state and local advocacy we are currently pursuing.
At the State Level
Bring California Home is a campaign that calls for California to invest $2.4 billion annually in state funding for solutions for homelessness. Brilliant Corners is on the Steering Committee, which includes a diverse coalition of homelessness advocates, local governments, nonprofits, affordable housing providers, and grassroots community organizations dedicated to eradicating homelessness as we know it in California. Bring California Home is convening California’s leading activists, elected officials, and community organizers along with statewide media to amplify the official rollout of AB 71, the coalition’s legislation to transform how California fights homelessness in our state, introduced by Assembly member Luz Rivas.
Back in October 2020, our Chief Program Officer Danielle Wildkress co-presented with our Board member Cynthia Nagendra at the County Welfare Directors Association on a proposal known as the California Housing Stability Benefit—a bold housing entitlement. The proposal recognizes that we are at an inflection point as a supportive housing sector. Are we going to build our way out of homelessness? Or do we need a transformational shift towards Housing Justice? The CA Housing Stability Benefit is something Brilliant Corners hopes to embed into California’s Roadmap Home 2030, an initiative to develop and implement a “Marshall Plan” for statewide housing and homelessness solutions. For months now, as a Housing CA Board member, our Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bill Pickel has been working with housing advocates across the state on the Roadmap.
In the Developmental Services sector, we continue to advocate for high-impact changes to address the under-the-radar housing crisis facing Californians who live with a developmental disability. In addition to our work developing licensed residential care homes and set-asides in multifamily supportive housing sites as alternatives to institutional settings, we strongly support one-on-one housing solutions combining landlord engagement, tenancy supports and rent subsidies. As a Board member of the Lanterman Housing Alliance and Chair of its Strategic Housing Framework Committee, Brilliant Corners CEO Bill Pickel is working with partners across the state on a three-year initiative to develop a model program design and funding mechanism, with the end goal that all 21 Regional Centers will fund Housing Access Services by 2023.
At the Local Level
In October 2020, a Court of Appeals ruled that Prop C, a San Francisco proposition that initially passed in 2018 but later challenged, could be implemented as written. Prop C creates more funding for the homeless-response system. Brilliant Corners Housing Services Northern California team members are now gearing up for a scattered-site supportive housing placement surge, funded largely through Prop C.
In LA County, Brilliant Corners worked to advocate for the passage of Measure J, a ballot initiative that would redirect funding priorities to invest in the health and economic wellness of marginalized communities and alternatives to incarceration. Since the passage of Measure J in November 2020, many LA-based team members have been involved in the implementation process–but especially Fund Development Associate Sophia Li who was elected Co-Chair for the Measure J Housing Subcommittee.
Since the beginning of 2021 we have also taken action on the following:
At the Federal Level
Covid relief that takes into account people experiencing homelessness: In February, Brilliant Corners, along with many other organizations across the homeless and housing services sector and led by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, mobilized in support of a federal Covid Relief measure to help people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. The relief measure includes a request for $5 billion in homeless assistance for outreach services and homeless prevention, emergency rental assistance for households that are significantly behind in their rent and utilities, and a request for Emergency Housing Vouchers for individuals and families who are precariously housed.
At the State Level
We’re advocating for both the adoption of and improvements to CalAIM: California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM) is a multi-year initiative by the California Department of Healthcare Services (DHCS) to improve the quality of life and health outcomes of vulnerable populations by implementing broad delivery system, program and payment reform across the Medi-Cal program. Alongside CSH, Brilliant Corners voices its support for the CalAIM proposal, while also recognizing that the structural flaws that need to be addressed. Currently, CalAIM only covers care coordination. It does not fund a benefit to pay for housing support services. Through our work, we know that housing support services are essential to support unhoused clients with navigating the tight housing market to actual lease up and ongoing stabilization support. Brilliant Corners encourages the state to create a benefit that works more like Whole Person Care funding. We believe that Whole Person Care—which includes housing support services and covers this cost more fully—is more aligned with what we know works.
Advocating for increased affordable housing development for people with disabilities: Brilliant Corners is also joining efforts with The Kelsey, a partner focused on disability-forward housing solutions, to request congressional action to reduce the Private Bond Allocation to a 25% Test for Accessible, Affordable Housing for People with Disabilities and Seniors. Amending the private activity bond test from 50% to 25% would lead to an increase in affordable, accessible housing being built. If current trends continue, 20,000 shovel-ready homes, 5,000 built for people with mobility and sensory disabilities, will remain unbuilt by the end of the year and hundreds of millions of state dollars will go unused because projects are waiting to get a private equity bond allocation.
Recognizing unaccompanied women as a distinct population to improve support and outreach: This month, Brilliant Corners followed the lead of Downtown Women’s Center to call for the passage of SB 678 – the Unaccompanied Women Experiencing Homelessness Act of 2021. SB 678 would make California the first state in the nation to recognize unaccompanied women as a distinct population in order to improve the state’s ability to design programs and strategies to address their specific needs. SB 678 requires the state’s Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council to set specific, measurable goals aimed at preventing and ending homelessness among unaccompanied women. The bill also requires the Council to collect county-level and statewide data about this group in accordance with state and federal privacy and confidentiality laws and include the data in the state’s Homeless Data Integration System.
Stay tuned for more updates on our advocacy efforts!