Governor Gavin Newsom recently announced that the California Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council (HCFC) has released the application for $50 million in funding for the brand-new Encampment Resolution Grant program. These funds will be available on a competitive basis to local governments that commit to addressing specific, persistent encampments by using these resources to provide pathways to permanent housing for individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness.
Created by Governor Newsom and the Legislature in the 2021-22 state budget, the Encampment Resolution Grant program provides targeted grants to fund selected proposals submitted by eligible cities, counties and continuums of care (CoCs).
“The situation with encampments in California is unacceptable,” said Newsom. “I refuse to accept the status quo – our fellow Californians suffering in tents, under highway overpasses, exposed to the elements, and living in unsanitary conditions. These new funds are another step towards providing dignified housing options for people exiting homelessness.”
The $50 million Encampment Resolution Grant program is a part of a broader $12 billion homeless package, which includes $2 billion in flexible homelessness aid directly to local governments, as well as a $5.8 billion expansion of the Governor’s successful Homekey program. All of these funds come with the strongest accountability and planning requirements that the State of California has ever had for homelessness spending.
All told, this year’s investments to address homelessness will provide housing and treatment for more than 44,000 individuals. In addition, the Governor created a new $1.1 billion Clean California program, which provides matching grants to local governments to assist them in their efforts to address encampments and restore public rights-of-way.
“With a focus on people and housing first, this program gives the state the opportunity to partner with communities on promising approaches to get residents connected to services and housing, and restore places to their intended use,” said Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramírez, who is also chair of HCFC. “Funded projects will be human centered and scalable and replicable for diverse communities across the state. We encourage all eligible cities, counties and continuums of care to partner up and apply.”
HCFC designed the program to fund projects across the state that:
· Prioritize the most unsafe and/or persistent encampments around the state, per the Governor’s direction to focus on high priority encampments that pose the greatest threat to health and safety.
· Provide services for people in those encampments to address the immediate crisis of unsheltered homelessness and provide a path to permanent housing.
· Support the sustainable restoration of public spaces to their intended uses while safeguarding the needs of unhoused people seeking shelter.
Eligible local entities are encouraged to submit their concepts for innovative, efficient service delivery models to assist persons experiencing unsheltered homelessness in encampments, including proposals for new partnership opportunities with the state and with philanthropic organizations.
HCFC aims to use this program to fund multiple projects throughout the state, serving the full range of California’s diverse geographic communities.
Applications for the completive grants are due on Dec. 31, and HCFC intends to announce awards for the first projects in the spring of 2022.
In addition to the new grant program, HCFC is also working to spur innovative approaches to encampments with a special cohort of the Governor’s 100-Day Challenge focused on serving persons experiencing unsheltered homelessness. Cities, counties and CoCs in Sacramento, Santa Cruz, Merced, Fresno and San Bernardino counties have come together to participate in this challenge, which kicks off Nov. 10 with a project design session.
“The 100-Day challenge creates a space for communities to explore and test innovative solutions throughout their delivery network,” said HCFC Executive Officer Julie Lo. “Previous challenges have found new ways to help veterans, youths, seniors, families and other Californians experiencing homelessness. We are excited to focus this powerful tool on improving the ways we serve those who are currently living in encampments.”
In the 100-Day Challenge, all the entities of the local homelessness response system are encouraged to work together to set audacious goals, streamline systems, and find innovative ways to help persons experiencing homelessness. The communities are supported in the challenge by coaches from the Rapid Results Institute, which provides intensive technical support and guidance. Participants also share ideas and encouragement with the other communities in the cohort. The encampment-focused cohort will be the fourth group of communities to participate in the Governor’s 100-Day Challenge.
On Jan. 1, 2022, HCFC will become the California Interagency Council on Homelessness (Cal-ICH) and will be co-chaired by Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency (BCSH) Secretary Castro Ramírez and California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. Cal-ICH and its staff will continue to be housed administratively under BCSH.