Spring 2023 was a packed season for advocacy at BC. Over the last quarter, we took action on several policy and advocacy initiatives and worked in collaboration with organizations and coalitions across the sector at the national, state, and local level to advocate for housing and homelessness policy improvements, increased funding for supportive housing and homelessness, and much more. Below is a recap of the advocacy opportunities we pursued during the spring months.
At the National Level
National Alliance to End Homelessness Conference
In early March, representatives from Brilliant Corners attended the annual National Alliance to End Homelessness Conference. The summit, titled “2023 Innovations and Solutions for Ending Unsheltered Homelessness Conference” brought together a national audience of youth, community service providers, researchers, and policy experts to share their experiences and perspectives on creating system-level change to prevent and end youth homelessness, ranging from immediate interventions to preventative strategies designed to stop homelessness before it begins.
National Low Income Housing Coalition Onward to Housing Justice Policy Forum
Later in March, Brilliant Corners attended the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) Onward to Housing Justice Policy Forum. We heard from federal elected and appointed officials on their housing priorities for Congress, and from experts in the field. The conference also centered the voices of people who are currently or previously unhoused and folks living in a variety of federally subsidized housing models. On day two, our Chief Strategic Partnership Officer, Sabrina Gillan, joined fellow Californians for a series of meetings with congressional offices to advocate for increasing access to federally subsidized housing options, eviction prevention, and improvements to HUD-VASH. From these meetings, Sabrina developed an ongoing relationship with Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ Banking Committee staff to share the experience of a partner provider for the VA and provide recommendations for system improvement. We also were able to share information about the Flex Pool and advocate for more flexible funds for housing services at a federal level.
At the State Level
In March, we joined the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) and Western Center on Law & Poverty on a letter of support for AB 1085, which would require California to create a Medi-Cal benefit to fund housing support services. The bill would require the Department of Healthcare Services to seek federal approval for a Medi-Cal housing support services benefit in 2024. Setting a deadline will drive plans to develop their capacity and for providers to participate, improve health outcomes among Californians experiencing homelessness, reduce homelessness, standardize eligibility, and draw down millions of federal dollars that we are currently not accessing.
Nonprofit Equity Initiative
Also in March, we signed on to the California Nonprofit Equity Initiative, a collection of seven state bills developed by CalNonprofits in collaboration with a coalition of nonprofits. Passing this package of bills will strengthen nonprofits’ essential partnership with the State of California and our mutual efforts to deliver the highest quality service to the people of California. The bills that comprise the California Nonprofit Equity Initiative are currently pending in the California legislature.
We joined our partners at Housing California in March to submit a letter of opposition to the Public Safety Committee in opposition to SB 31. You may remember from our last update that SB 31 seeks to further criminalize the very existence of our unhoused neighbors in public space. SB 31 would make it a crime to sit, lie, sleep, or store, use, maintain, or place personal property upon any street, sidewalk, or other public right-of-way within 1000 feet of a so-called “sensitive area”, including schools, daycare centers, parks, or libraries.
Housing CA Conference
We closed out the month of March at the Housing CA Conference, where our Associate Director of the Los Angeles Flexible Housing Subsidy Pool (FHSP), Hanna Kim, was a featured panelist for a session on ‘Asserting the Rights of Voucher Tenants: SOI Discrimination and Increasing Utilization.’ Hanna was joined by Vice President for Housing and Income Security at Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Peggy Bailey, Poverty & Civil Rights Attorney, Parisa Ijadi-Maghsoodi, & Staff Attorney at National Housing Law Project, Lila Gitesatani. Panelist speakers shared insights and strategies on how to support voucher tenants and legal pathways to prevent discrimination based on source of income.
2023-24 Housing and Homelessness Budget Blueprint for Impact
In May, we signed a letter of support addressed to Governor Newsom, Senate President pro Tempore Atkins, Assembly Speaker Rendon, Assembly Budget Chair Ting, and Senate Budget Chair Skinner regarding the Ongoing Funding to Address Homelessness in the 2023-2024 Budget. The letter provided a framework for the 2023-24 budget that would provide ongoing funding for solutions to homelessness through the Homeless Housing, Assistance, and Prevention (HHAP) Program, while including comprehensive accountability measures for both the local grantees and the state. The budget calls for an investment of $7.9 billion in a critical continuum of housing production, preservation, and homelessness programs to advance housing affordability and economic resilience in California, as well as $1 billion in additional funding for the Homeless Housing, Assistance, and Prevention Program (HHAP) in 2023-2024 for a total of $23 billion in ongoing funding for future years, allowing 94,000 households to exit homelessness, and many other targeted recommendations to increase availability of and access to housing resources. We also took to Twitter for Housing CA’s budget tweet storm, in collaboration with our partners Housing CA, Bring CA Home, The People Concern, and NAEH, to urge California Legislators to support the budget recommendations. You can view the full letter here.
Bring California Home Coalition in Sacramento
Later in May, our Chief Strategic Partnership Officer, Sabrina Gillan, joined the Bring California Home Coalition to meet with elected officials in Sacramento to advocate for ongoing funding in the state budget as well as providing a way forward to increase accountability for regions to utilize the housing dollars they have. Two of these meetings were with the offices of Senator Nancy Skinner and Senator Scott Weiner, where we now have established a reputation and rapport with their respective staffers.
At the Local Level
Long Beach Civil Service Commission
Congratulations to our very own Jose Osuna, Director of External Affairs, who was appointed as the newest member of the Long Beach Civil Service Commission!! Jose was appointed in May by Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson to the Civil Service Commission, a charter-mandated commission that consists of five members of the community, appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council. This is the 3rd government commission Jose will be serving on, in addition to L.A. County’s Public Safety Realignment Team, which works on all things AB 109 for L.A. County, and the Long Beach City Prosecutor’s MultiCultural Advisory Commission.
Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission for the State of California
Jose also recently spoke at the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission for the State of California. He was joined by the Center for Trauma-Informed Practices, Hope and Heal Fund, Trauma Recovery Center, and the Deputy Attorney for the City of LA. Jose shared information on Brilliant Corners’ work to provide housing for people navigating mental health challenges, and how housing is key to stability and wellbeing.
Provider Advocate Roundtable
Brilliant Corners has joined an LA City/County provider advocate roundtable to work closely with local partner organizations advancing housing justice in Los Angeles. Jose presented on the progress made in our efforts to enact a Fair Chance Housing Ordinance in LA County and was received with so much enthusiasm that he was asked to present again to a larger group of advocates and stakeholders.
Care First Community Investment (Formerly known as Measure J)
Brilliant Corners continues to support the recommendations for fully funding Measure J and the Care First vision in Los Angeles. During the spring season, our team continued attending the Care First Advisory Committee meetings.
We collaborated with our coalition partners within the Re-imagine LA and Justice LA to mobilize for the Board of Supervisors meeting in May, to urge supervisors to expand the Office of Diversion and Reentry (ODR) Housing, authored by Supervisor Mitchell, which will direct the CEO to secure funding for 1000 mental health beds. Expanding ODR Housing is a small, but critical step toward closing Men’s Central Jail and making sure individuals who are diverted from the jail can access the mental health services they need. We are happy to share that this motion has moved forward.
The Re-imagine LA coalition also released an analysis report of the FY 23-24 proposed budget and shared it with community members at the end of May. The analysis report includes Care First Budget Proposals and coalition demands, and recommendations that center a care first Los Angeles. Even though the CEO reduced the funding allocation for CFCI in Year 3, from $100M to $88M, the CFCI Advisory Body still finalized the Year 3 spending plan which includes a recommendation to expand ODR’s Letting Everyone Advance with Dignity (LEAD) program. One of the AB109 recommendations included funding Breaking Barriers, a nationally recognized Brilliant Corners’ program that provides housing, services and employment support to people exiting the justice system.
Fair Chance Housing Ordinance
We are continuing the efforts in our campaign to bring about the LA County Fair Chance Housing Ordinance, which would give equal access in the housing application process to people in LA County who have experienced incarceration. During our last update, we shared that an LA City ordinance is also in process, and our Director of External Affairs, Jose Osuna, is actively working with stakeholders on the local level to see how we can support the Fair Chance Housing Ordinance for the City of LA. We also convened a coalition meeting with local partners who are interested in supporting the Fair Chance Housing Ordinance for LA County. The coalition is working in collaboration with city partners to ensure alignment and best outcomes with the process happening at city level. If you would like to learn more or want to participate in the coalition or the campaign in any way, please reach out to our Director of External Affairs, Jose Osuna, at email@example.com.