The winter season was a busy time for Brilliant Corners’ advocacy. We engaged in several advocacy initiatives and worked in collaboration with organizations and coalitions across the sector at the state, and local level, with the goal of reducing the barriers to housing for our unhoused neighbors and justice-impacted individuals. Below is a recap of the advocacy opportunities we pursued throughout the winter season that align with our approach to make housing more accessible for all.
At the Federal Level
Sharing Best Practices with HUD Region 9
In February, Chief Program Officer, Chris Contreras, LA Housing Services Director, Sophia Rice, Chief Strategic Partnership Officer, Sabrina Gillan, Associate Director of Case Management, Morgan Chandler, and Breaking Barriers Case Manager, Raven McDowell, who was also a featured participant in this PBS segment, met with HUD’s Region 9 staff at Brilliant Corners’ LA office to share best practices and lessons learned from operating the Flexible Housing Subsidy Pool, and to spotlight the Breaking Barriers program, which provides housing and employment support to people exiting the justice system.
At the State Level
Meetings with CA Senators and Assemblymembers for Irvine Award
In February, it was announced that our Chief Program Officer, Chris Contreras was recognized by the James Irvine Foundation as one of the 2023 Leadership Award recipients. The Award also spotlights the impact of the Flexible Housing Subsidy Pool, a system-changing innovation operated by Brilliant Corners in partnership with LA County Department of Health Services’ Housing for Health division.You can learn more about the award on our website and watch Chris’ video here.
As part of the award announcement, Chris was recognized with other Irvine award recipients on the Assembly and Senate floor, and was presented with a resolution recognizing the achievement. Chris was then joined by our CEO, Bill Pickel, and Chief Strategic Partnership Officer, Sabrina Gillan, to conduct a series of legislative meetings with key state lawmakers working on housing and homelessness and representing regions where Brilliant Corners works, including Senator Scott Weiner, Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, Assemblymember Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Senator Nancy Skinner, Assemblymember Eloise Gomez Reyes, and the office of Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo. It was an honor for our team to meet with all of these legislators and their staff to share Brilliant Corners’ approach to scaling supportive housing solutions, including the Flex Pool model, our housing development work, and our statewide portfolio of residential care homes for people with disabilities. We also shared our policy priorities and the vital importance of ongoing funding for rental subsidies, the key ingredient that makes scaling scattered-site supportive housing placements a reality.
AB 799: The Homelessness Accountability & Results Act
In February, we joined a press conference in Sacramento to support AB 799, the Homelessness Accountability & Results Act, introduced by Assemblymember Luz Rivas. AB 799 would increase accountability on how Homeless Housing, Assistance, and Prevention Program (HHAP) funds are used by local governments, ensuring our state dollars are resulting in people exiting homelessness. It also pushes us toward the true need of ongoing funding to support our homeless response systems.
2023-24 Housing and Homelessness Budget Blueprint for Impact
We signed onto a joint letter alongside partners CSH, Housing CA and many other coalition partners for the 2023-24 Housing and Homelessness Budget Blueprint for Impact, collectively calling for 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. You can view the full letter here.
In January, we signed a joint letter of opposition for SB 31 (Jones). 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. SB 31 seeks to further criminalize the very existence of our unhoused neighbors in public space and we believe that it would create more barriers to individuals who are at risk of or currently experiencing homelessness.
California Housing Needs Assessment
In December, Brilliant Corners joined dozens of policymakers, housing experts, organizations, homeless service providers, homeless advocates, and fellow Californians in endorsing The California Homeless Housing Needs Assessment, a comprehensive research report authored by our partners at CSH that illustrates the level of investment needed to solve California’s homelessness crisis. We issued a letter to Senator Nancy Skinner urging her to use the CA Homeless Housing Needs Assessment to create an informed investment plan that will finally solve homelessness statewide. Brilliant Corners’ was a significant contributor to the data utilized in the Needs Assessment.
Homelessness is a Policy Choice Launch
Also in December, we joined Bring CA Home and other housing and homeless service providers to launch Homelessness is a Policy Choice Launch, Bring CA Home’s public education initiative aimed at lifting up what works to solve homelessness and sharing voices from the front lines of our homelessness crisis in CA – so that our policymakers can learn the facts and real solutions to solve our affordable housing crisis and end homelessness. We took to Twitter to join a tweetstorm to engage policymakers, peer organizations, and people with lived expertise on what lawmakers need to know about homelessness, what resources are most helpful for information-gathering, and what lawmakers and the public should know from people who have experienced homelessness. We appreciated hearing from providers and also from people with lived expertise as to what solutions they have found to be most effective, and how policymakers can strengthen the homeless response and housing sector.
At the Local Level
Care First Community Investment (Formerly known as Measure J)
Brilliant Corners continues to take action to voice support and recommendations for fully funding Measure J and the Care First vision in Los Angeles. During the winter season, our team continued attending the Care First Advisory Committee meetings. For the last update, we shared that our coalition partners launched the Care First Budget Survey, asking LA County residents what resources are needed to see their communities thrive. Throughout the winter months, we joined efforts to promote and share the survey out to more community members and Spanish speakers. The Care First Budget Survey closed at the end of February and received close to 1000 responses from community members.
In December, the ReLA coalition published an article in the LAP progressive called ”Reimagine LA Advances the Idea of Care Community members and advocates push to bring loved ones home from incarceration in LA County jails” The article recognized the two-year anniversary milestone of the Care First Community Investment (CFCI), and reflected on many community victories as well as the challenges of pushing the County to move towards a care first vision. Coalition members and our team recognized the need to provide more language-inclusive work and information to the community. We provided support to make this article more accessible to Spanish speakers by reaching out to Spanish media outlets in the hopes to publish more Spanish articles in the near future.
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. We are currently working with three of the Board of Supervisors’ offices and are in the coalition-building stage of our process.
Currently, an LA City ordinance is also in process, and our Director of External Affairs, Jose Osuna, is meeting with folks on the local level to see how we can support the Fair Chance Housing Ordinance for the City of LA. We also met with local partners who are interested in joining the coalition and supporting the Fair Chance Housing Ordinance for LA County.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
In February, Brilliant Corners joined The Alliance for Community Transit – Los Angeles (ACT-LA) as a member. The Coalition is made of a number of groups working on policy issues in LA focused on housing, land use, and transportation justice with the goal to bring social equity in LA and specifically low-income communities and communities of color.