SACRAMENTO, CA — Tackling one of his key priorities in office, Assemblymember Rick Chavez Zbur (D-West Hollywood/Santa Monica) today announced a series of bills addressing the crisis of homelessness. These bills further Assemblymember Zbur's emphasis on preventing homelessness as a key component of reducing the number of people suffering on our streets. The bills empower our most vulnerable populations to stay in their homes instead of losing their current housing.
"It is much more compassionate and cost-effective to keep people in their existing homes than it is to intervene after they become homeless," said Assemblymember Zbur. "While building more supportive housing is an important part of tackling this crisis, we need to focus much more on helping at-risk individuals and families who are on the brink of becoming homeless."
California is home to at least 170,000 people experiencing homelessness – a staggering and disproportionate figure that amounts to 30 percent of the nation's homeless population, with at least 10,000 people newly experiencing homelessness between 2020 and 2022. Roughly 64 percent of low-income households are rent-burdened and unable to afford basic needs, putting them at serious risk of becoming unhoused. These Californians are then burdened with severe stressors that can contribute to mental health and substance abuse challenges, amplifying the need for social services.
The bills in Asm. Zbur's Affordable Housing and Homelessness Resources Package include:
- AB 1431: The California Housing Security Act. One key to reducing the number of Californians experiencing homelessness is to empower people who are currently house. AB 1431 will reduce homelessness by helping the most housing insecure Californians remain in their homes when they are facing challenging economic times. It furthers California's commitment to putting housing first by providing short and medium term rent subsidies up to $2,000 a month to the most housing insecure populations, including older adults, adults with disabilities, people experiencing unemployment or homelessness, former foster youth, and recently incarcerated people, without regard to immigration status. A year of assistance costing $24,000 could prevent a family from losing their home and reduce the need for supportive housing, which can cost roughly $600,000 per new unit. This means a two-year rent subsidy program funded at $500 million could prevent homelessness for more than 10,000 people – roughly the same amount of people who became homeless between 2020 and 2022 – and save California billions on new supportive housing. The bill requires the California Department of Housing and Community Development to establish a two-year pilot program (the California Housing Security Program) in up to four counties across the state – spanning northern, southern, and central regions, taking into account urban, rural, and suburban representation – to develop criteria for and provide housing subsidies to Medi-Cal eligible populations as listed above. Sponsors: City of Santa Monica, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
- AB 1620: Apartment Swaps for Tenants with Permanent Physical Disabilities. People with physical disabilities who are living in rent-controlled apartments are at risk of becoming homeless if they become unable to access their home and cannot find a ground floor unit at a similar rate. This bill will address this problem by authorizing local jurisdictions to require that tenants with permanent physical disabilities be allowed to relocate to an available ground-level unit at the same rental rate and terms. Sponsors: City of West Hollywood, City of Santa Monica
- AB 369: Independent Living Program for Foster Youth. Young people aging out of foster care are often not prepared to survive independently and become homeless. This bill increases the age for foster youth to receive support through the Independent Living Program from age 21 to 23, aligning California with more than 30 other states. The bill also clarifies that young adults are allowed to accumulate cash savings while in extended foster care, better equipping them to successfully become self-reliant in adulthood. Sponsors: California Coalition for Youth, Alliance for Children's Rights, and Children Now
- AB 1335: Regional Housing and Sustainability Planning. In order for cities to meet their local housing needs and ensure that development is sustainable, regional authorities undertake extensive planning through the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) program and the Sustainable Communities Strategies program. However, these programs often rely on inconsistent data and presumptions. This bill requires planning and reporting for sustainable housing development to be more transparent and makes clarifying changes so that housing and sustainability goals are better aligned. The bill also incentivizes sustainable housing near transit to reduce reliance on cars. Sponsor: Abundant Housing LA
These bills provide cost-effective solutions to prevent homelessness, easing the burden on government programs and organizations across the state while giving local jurisdictions more life-saving tools to keep people in their homes and off the streets.
CONTACT: Vienna Montague, (916) 319-2051, Vienna.Montague@asm.ca.gov