Why AB 799 Would Transform California’s Homelessness Response

At the California State Capitol in Sacramento, there are a number of buzzwords in every conversation around homelessness, and the one that keeps rising to the top: “accountability.’’ But few seem to share a definition of what accountability means and looks like in practice. And to whom should we be accountable?

The National Alliance to End Homelessness believes in being accountable to the field overall: first, to people experiencing homelessness; and second, to service providers on the front lines doing the hard work to end homelessness for so many of our neighbors.

Being accountable looks like investing in what we know works to end homelessness:

  • promoting well-rounded, systemic, and person-centered responses that meet everyone’s unique needs, with an end goal of permanent housing;
  • providing stable, continuous funding that allows service providers to build their workforce and scale up;
  • setting goals at the state, regional, and local levels to drive planning and results;
  • fostering strong collaboration between cities, counties, and Continuums of Care;
  • working with a racial equity lens and setting tangible targets to close gaps and eliminate disparities in service delivery and outcomes; and
  • letting people with lived experience of homelessness drive the creation of solutions and systems to end homelessness.

That’s why the Alliance is a proud sponsor of AB 799, a piece of legislation developed by the Bring California Home coalition. This coalition brings together people with lived experience of homelessness, local homeless services providers, local governments, and policy experts to develop solutions for California. In addition to the Alliance, the bill is co-sponsored by CSH, Housing California, John Burton Advocates for Youth, the Regional Task Force on Homelessness of San Diego, and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

If enacted, AB 799 would:

  • create a path for ongoing, stable commitments of funding through California’s Housing, Homeless Assistance, and Prevention (HHAP) program;
  • require the state to set top line goals for key metrics like increasing permanent housing placements and reducing the numbers of people falling into homelessness;
  • require regional collaboration and clarity on who is in charge of which aspects of the homelessness response as a precondition for receiving different sources of state homelessness funding;
  • ensure state investments create balanced, systemic responses that meet an individuals’ needs and focus on ending their homelessness;
  • drive local jurisdictions forward in advancing racial equity and centering people with lived expertise by taking a good look at practices like hiring, contracting, and service delivery; and
  • assist local systems to build their workforce capacity and remove barriers to workforce stability.

How You Can Make AB 799 A Reality

AB 799 faces a long road ahead in the legislature, and needs your help to get across the finish line. The bill is being heard in the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee on 4/26/23, and we need support from organizations like yours. Letters of support are due to the Housing Committee by 4/19. Please submit a letter of support through the California Legislative Advocates portal; you can use this template letter of support. In addition to submitting through the portal, please e-mail a copy of the letter to avisotzky@naeh.org and Omar.Hashemyan@asm.ca.gov.

Additionally, Bring California Home will be holding a lobby day on 4/25 in Sacramento and lining up supporters for the bill hearing on 4/26—if you are able to be in Sacramento either day and interested in participating, please either fill out this form or contact avisotzky@naeh.org.

For more information on the legislation, please contact Alex at avisotzky@naeh.org.