Two bills that seek to address the State’s homeless crisis did not make it through committee this year, though the authors will continue to pursue the bills in the second year of the two-year session. Senator Blakespear (Encinitas) introduced SB 7—the Homeless Housing Obligation Act— which would require cities to plan for sufficient temporary and permanent housing to address their homeless need when completing their housing element. According to the author, the plans would need to identify a placement for every homeless person counted in each city’s point in time census count. The bill did not identify how these homes would be funded.
A second bill from Senator Becker (San Mateo) would facilitate development of small temporary homes for the homeless, which he calls “opportunity housing,” by allowing them to be placed on vacant lots while projects are going through the long-term planning and permitting processes for future development. SB 634— Low Barrier Navigation Center and Housing Opportunity Projects– seeks to streamline approvals for these projects and would make it harder for residents to oppose the temporary use in some situations. Several housing advocates, including Housing California and the Corporation for Supportive Housing, oppose the bill expressing concerns that opportunity housing would be unsafe and would not be guaranteed to be affordable. Similar battles are taking place at the local level, where disagreements about the approach to interim versus permanent housing as a homelessness solution are taking place. Read about San Jose’s current effort to respond to homelessness here.