At the July 2018 meeting of the California Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council (HCFC), Council Chair Alexis Podesta announced plans for distributing $500 million in emergency funding to help local governments address homelessness. To receive Homeless Emergency Aid Program funding, jurisdictions must declare an emergency shelter crisis and local Continuums of Care must demonstrate strong coordination between cities and counties. The HCFC anticipates that the NOFA will be released by the end of September 2018, with funds distributed on a rolling basis until January 31, 2019, one month following the close of the application period. In addition, the HCFC anticipates that Round 2 funding will open in April 2019.
The HCFC also reviewed and adopted assessments that covered the extent to which the California Tax Allocation Committee (TCAC) and California Housing Financing Agency (CalHFA) programs employ a Housing First approach. The assessment found that the TCAC Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program currently does not set tenant eligibility or programmatic requirements other than those based on income and recommended that it amend its regulations to require projects that serve homeless households to use the Housing First model. The CalHFA assessment of its Special Needs Housing/Mental Health Services Act program resulted in similar findings, as well as recommendations to update its term sheets. Both agencies used the Housing First Checklist adopted by the HCFC at its April 2018 meeting. The HCFC will receive assessments from the state Department of Health Care Services and Department of Veterans Affairs at its October 2018 meeting.
Finally, the HCFC received reports on three additional priorities related to the implementation of Housing First guidelines and regulations:
- Statewide homeless data integration project. This project would help state leaders better understand how to target funding to communities, populations, and interventions to achieve the greatest impact. The recommendations, which are based in part on a review of HMIS solutions implemented statewide, include acquiring an off-the-shelf solution, leveraging the HUD HMIS data structure, analyzing statewide HMIS security standards, creating participation incentives, and providing options for direct data entry for small Continuums of Care (CoC) with fewer resources, among others. The HCFC also received a presentation from Santa Clara County Consortium about the benefits of using an integrated data system to inform policy and program decisions.
- Homeless housing and interventions needs assessment. The HCFC discussed a phased approach to a needs assessment designed to help stakeholders quantify the level of need and resources required to functionally end homelessness. The assessment would incorporate statewide data and research, data from CoCs with the largest homeless populations, and snapshots of two to six other CoCs representing the geographic and population diversity of the state.
- Catalog of state-administered homeless programs. The catalog (Appendix D of the HCFC staff report) provides information on programs providing housing and housing-based services, including the funding agency, eligible uses of funding, applicant eligibility, available funding, and upcoming funding cycles.