Capitol Reporter Affordable-home and homelessness policy news from the halls of the Capitol April 2020
Dear Friends, Partners, and Allies,
We hope this moment finds you, your family, and your community safe, secure, and healthy.
As the world changes around us, Housing California continues to hold our bold vision to create a California with homes, health, and prosperity for all!
We recognize the need for “both/and” solutions that focus on the need for immediate housing assistance for individuals experiencing homelessness and housing instability, as well as structural fixes to address the underlying reasons for California’s persistent and pernicious affordable housing and homelessness challenges.
With this vision in mind and to strategically prepare for the emerging COVID-19 reality, we paused for a moment — to look back at history for lessons learned and to gather real-time data from our resident leaders, affordable housing developers, and homeless service providers on the ground; our Board of Directors, partners, and allies across the state and nation; and our state leadership in the administration and the legislature. Through this assessment, we gleaned the following:
First, history tells us that difficult situations and disruptions can provide a rare opportunity to gain insights and develop new approaches that will improve our lives and create fundamental change long after a crisis ends.
Second, with unprecedented leadership from our governor, strong political will from our administration, legislature, and local governments, and growing public support for government to take charge, we have a unique opportunity to get our neighbors off the streets, significantly shift resources to where they are needed most, and create structural reforms for the long game.
To fully meet this moment, advance our mission, and reach for the vision above, Housing California has adopted a new 3x3 Framework that builds off our 2020 Strategic Plan:
1. Three levels: national, state, and statewide. Housing California coordinates with state and national partners to influence federal policy, pushes for transformative policy change in the state capitol, and connects the field to provide community and share resources statewide.
2. Three phases of implementation: urgent, short-term, and long-term. For example, we must provide immediate relief for those experiencing homelessness and those on the brink of losing their homes. In the short-term, we must move people from temporary housing into permanent homes. And looking forward, we must make bold, long-term investments and reforms to create stable, affordable homes for all Californians.
3. Three interrelated goals: create affordable homes, provide housing stability, and end homelessness. COVID-19 presents unique challenges and opportunities for each of these issues at the national and state levels, and in the near- and long-term.
We know this crisis will pass. And, we recognize a full recovery for all Californians requires intentionality, boldness, and collaboration. Californians show up for each other, no matter what we look like, where we come from, or where we live. We will harness this same collective spirit, urgency, and energy to bring relief and safety to our neighbors experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity during this especially challenging time. And we will shift significant resources and catalyze structural changes essential to create our California with homes, health, and prosperity for all.
In solidarity, strength, and gratitude,
Lisa Hershey Executive Director
INFLUENCING FEDERAL POLICY
While Housing California continues to focus primarily on state policy, we recognize the critical role that federal policy plays — particularly during this public health crisis — in leveraging our state dollars effectively and in enabling California’s ability to implement progressive laws. We are working closely with the National Low-Income Housing Alliance (NLIHC), the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH), and the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations (NACEDA) — to expand federal housing and homelessness resources that will help Californians struggling the most. During the last couple of years, Housing California has formalized this relationship further as the California lead for the NLIHC Opportunity Starts at Home Campaign. This relationship has positioned us well to lift up both California’s experience and evolving needs to influence Congress as they develop these historic spending packages to address COVID-19.
Take action with NLIHC’s Opportunity Starts at Home campaign here, and with NAEH here.
NLIHC invited Housing California’s Executive Director, Lisa Hershey, to present on California’s on-the-ground experience, state action, and federal resources needed as part of their April 6 national Disaster Recovery Housing Coalition webinar, which draws 1,600 to 2,000 Congressional members, media, state policy makers, and advocates from across the nation to listen, learn, and take action together. Lisa focused her remarks on Governor Newsom’s Project Roomkey. Check out that webinar and others from NLIHC here.
NAEH also has a COVID-19 webinar series full of helpful information here.
TRANSFORMING STATE POLICY
During this public health and economic crisis, Housing California is working hand-in-hand with partners across the state to provide immediate relief to those experiencing homelessness and to those on the brink of losing their homes, as well as putting forward recommendations for systems changes and structural reforms to create a better California for all. The choices our government makes now to help us weather the outbreak of this virus can also set a better course for the future of our communities. Now is the time for us to unite across our differences and make policy choices that help everyday people in pursuit of a safe and thriving nation.
Stopping Evictions and Foreclosures
We are grateful that the Judicial Council adopted an emergency rule that effectively stops evictions and foreclosures statewide for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency. This is an encouraging step towards ensuring people stay safe and healthy. And we recognize the great need for a strong rental assistance program to accompany this action.
Stabilizing the Affordable Housing Development Community
While Governor Newsom and the Legislature have shown real leadership in allocating hundreds of millions of dollars in emergency COVID-19 funds directed at homelessness, we also need to make sure the affordable housing industry stays strong during and after this crisis. Housing California and our partners shared recommendations with the administration detailing some of the immediate measures the State can take to ease the pressure on the non-profit affordable housing community. Read the full letter here.
Securing More Funding
The latest word is that the legislature may return to the State Capitol by May 4. COVID-19 has only heightened the importance of policymakers advancing budgetary and legislative changes that create affordable homes for people struggling the most, including our neighbors currently living on the streets. That’s why Housing California supports AB 1905, which creates an ongoing, permanent source of funding to provide services and housing for people experiencing homelessness. Send a support letter here.
Creating the Roadmap HOME
As we recover from COVID-19, we must create a stronger system for ensuring that California has the resources and systems in place to provide homes, health, and prosperity for all. Housing California, California Housing Partnership, and our partners across the state are developing California’s Roadmap HOME 2030 to do just that. Learn more in this feature article from HousingWire and in this op-ed in Cal Matters by Housing California’s Executive Director, Lisa Hershey, and California Housing Partnership’s CEO, Matt Schwartz.
CONNECTING THE FIELD STATEWIDE
It is more critical than ever that we work together to find solutions that serve California’s most vulnerable residents. That’s why Housing California continues to create opportunities for residents and practitioners across the state to get the latest information and resources, and to inform and influence policy development in real time. And it’s why we do all our work in multi-sector coalitions and community organizing networks.
Responding to Homelessness During COVID-19
On April 10, Housing CA and the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) hosted a webinar on California’s COVID-19 Response to Homelessness that drew close to 700 people from across the state. Featured speakers included Jason Elliot, Senior Counselor to California Governor Gavin Newsom for housing and homelessness; Senator Holly Mitchell, Chair of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee; and Assemblymember David Chiu, Chair of the Assembly’s Housing Committee. They explored the State’s COVID-19 response for people experiencing homelessness and provided legislative and budgetary updates and timelines. View the webinar recording here.
Be Part of the 2020 Census, History in the Making
Fill out the 2020 Census form today, and encourage your friends and family to do the same! By answering 9 simple, confidential questions, you ensure you are counted and help secure federal funds for important programs, like education, health care, and housing in your community. We must not lose sight of this important action that will have a long-lasting impact on our society. Visit my2020census.gov to fill out the form online.
Residents in Community
It’s been a tough few weeks for Residents United Network (RUN) members, who are either cooped up at home or working in scary conditions. March 19, when we had planned to gather in Sacramento for Lobby Day, has come and gone. But one thing we know for sure is that we still want to make sure everyone in California has a safe, stable, affordable home -- and that housing and homelessness challenges are even more pressing than they were a month ago.
To make sure our resident leaders stay connected, we are delving deep into RUN community-building. We’re hosting weekly RUN “Community Care” video chats, starting a “RUN Buddy” program, and providing more frequent updates through email and social media.
Schools and Communities First Submits 1.7 Million Signatures!
Housing California serves on the executive committee of the Schools and Communities First campaign, which recently submitted a historic 1.7 million signatures to qualify for the November 2020 ballot. The measure would raise $12 billion every year for schools and communities. Join the movement here.
Our written and spoken words hold tremendous power to shape the narrative around the issues of housing insecurity and homelessness. Words shape perception and ideally inspire people to take action.
With sincere thanks to NPH, Race Class Narrative, and Anat Shenker-Osorio, this messaging guide can help us all “talk about COVID-19 in a way that conveys urgency, a healthy vision, and cross-racial solidarity.”
Also, this article by RALLY provides helpful guidance on how to adapt advocacy communications during COVID-19.
Understandably, the legislature is currently focused on proposals that immediately stem the spread of COVID-19 and address the cascading economic effects of the outbreak on the state’s population. Resources at the State Capitol have sprung up to provide insight and direction, including these:
Do you know nonprofits or businesses with 500 employees or fewer that need help with payroll, rent, or mortgage expenses due to the COVID-19 crisis? They are eligible to apply for loans under the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress last week. The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) have issued guidelines. Find a fact sheet on PPP here.