Bay Area Leaders Urge Gov. Brown to Sign Bill Easing Homeless Shelter Construction

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  September 27, 2017

Contacts:  Anthony Matthews and Jessica Duong, tel. (916) 319-2019

Bay Area leaders and advocates for the homeless joined Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) in urging Governor Jerry Brown to sign Assembly Bill (AB) 932, legislation providing regulatory relief in order to rapidly build new shelters that can link people in need with services to achieve self-sufficiency.

Ting’s AB 932 passed the State Legislature and now awaits Brown’s signature or veto by October 15.

“California has a homelessness crisis.  Even when declaring a state of emergency, as we have in San Francisco, red tape continues to hold us back,” said Ting.  “This bill gives us a chance to show how new freedoms will help foster new and innovative solutions to help more people get off the street.”

AB 932 creates a pilot program for the Cities of Berkeley, Emeryville, Los Angeles, Oakland and San Diego along with the County of Santa Clara, and the City and County of San Francisco.  Until January 1, 2021, and upon the declaration of a shelter crisis, these communities can adopt by ordinance reasonable local standards for housing habitability, zoning and construction approval to streamline the deployment of temporary shelter housing on publicly owned or leased lands.  The California Department of Housing and Community Development must approve the ordinances within 30 days.

Nearly half of the state’s homeless population is found in the communities included in the pilot project created by AB 932.  And, nearly 70 percent of their homeless residents are unsheltered.

“Berkeley and the entire Bay Area is facing a homeless crisis with thousands of people living on our streets without access to basic shelter.  This is why cities like Berkeley have declared a Homeless Shelter Crisis, and although there have been some roadblocks with permit and code requirements, we are committed to addressing this problem,” said Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin.  “AB 932 is an innovative solution to assist cities to create more low-cost shelter. No human being should have to live on the streets.”

Overall, California has the largest homeless population of any state in the nation, with 118,142 homeless residents.  Among the communities included in the pilot project, their homeless populations follow:

The City of Los Angeles has 34,189 homeless residents, with 25,237 unsheltered, while the City and County of San Francisco has 7,499 homeless residents, with 4,353 of those unsheltered.
Santa Clara County has 7,394 homeless residents, with 5,448 people unsheltered while
San Diego has 5,619 homeless residents, with 3,231 unsheltered. Oakland has 2,761 homeless residents, with 1,902 unsheltered, while the Berkeley has 972 homeless residents, with 664 unsheltered.

"For the past two decades, the City has systematically moved away from a shelter model and hoped that permanent housing would magically solve our homelessness crisis," said Supervisor London Breed, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.  "We all know that this has not served our City well.  We not only have a homelessness crisis, a housing crisis, and a mental health and substance abuse crisis; we now have a shelter crisis.  As such, we need to expand our existing shelter systems without the bureaucratic red tape. Thanks to Assemblymember Phil Ting, AB 932 gives us the flexibility do just that. If signed by the Governor, I'm committed to drafting legislation that would enact this bill locally, so that our shelters can actually provide services and real opportunities for permanent housing."

"Assembly Bill 932 gives cities like Emeryville additional flexibility to address the growing shelter crisis,” said Emeryville Mayor Scott Donahue.  “Emeryville will leverage these new tools to ensure we are helping the broader region deliver solutions to people experiencing homelessness."

In May 2016, a San Francisco Board of Supervisors resolution urged Governor Jerry Brown to declare a State of Emergency on Homelessness and to “create permanent housing opportunities with the right level of services to ensure that housing opportunities are stable and successful in the long-term.”  The Cities of Berkeley and Los Angeles have also declared states of emergencies.  The Cities of Oakland and San Diego are in the process of doing so.

Jesse Arreguin