California is making three new funding opportunities available to help communities statewide to address homelessness. Two of the grant opportunities—the Homeless Emergency Aid Program and the California Emergency Solutions and Housing Program—are both part of a 2018 amendment to SB 850 totaling more than $550 million.

Homeless Emergency Aid Program

The Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP), managed by the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council (HCFC), represents $500 million in one-time, flexible block grants available to communities. The program provides $250 million for Continuums of Care (CoCs) based on 2017 Point-in-Time Count numbers, $150 million in direct allocation to cities of less than 330,000 people, and $100 million to CoCs based on their percentage of the total statewide homeless population.

Eligible activities include emergency housing vouchers, rapid re-housing, emergency shelter construction, the use of armories to provide temporary shelter, and other activities. To be eligible for funding, a city, county, or joint power of authority must officially declare an emergency shelter crisis (although waivers may be available for smaller cities). The grants are intentionally flexible and meant to provide a one-time injection of funding while communities wait for supportive housing to be built. The program also aims to provide a flexible complement to other funding.

The notice of funding availability (NOFA) will be released on Sept. 5 and closes Dec. 31, 2018. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, and HCFC encourages early applications. Additional information, including workshops, FAQs, maps, guidance, and other details, is available on the HCFC website.

California Emergency Solutions and Housing Program

The California Emergency Solutions and Housing program (CESH), managed by the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), provides $53 million in five-year emergency solutions grants. Eligible applicants must be administrative entities—local governments, nonprofit organizations, and unified funding agencies—designated by the CoC.

CESH funds may be used for five eligible activities: housing relocation and stabilization, operating subsidies provided as reserves for new and existing supportive housing, flexible housing subsidy funds, operating support for emergency housing interventions, and systems support. CESH funds may also be used to develop or update Coordinated Entry Systems (CES), Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS), or homelessness plans where needed.

Entities requesting an award by early November 2018 must apply on or before Sept. 27, 2018. The last day to apply is Oct. 15, 2018.

Workshops are scheduled for Sept. 7 and 10, 2018. Information about the workshops, as well as the NOFA, application, FAQs, formula allocation, and details about eligible activities are available on the HCD website.

No Place Like Home Program (NPLH)

Counties may also apply to HCD for No Place Like Home (NPLH) funding contingent on voter approval in November 2018. Counties may use these funds to acquire, design, construct, rehabilitate, or preserve permanent supportive housing for persons who are experiencing or at risk of chronic homelessness and who need mental health services. The funds must be used for supportive housing that uses low-barrier tenant selection practices and provides voluntary, individualized supportive services. Counties must also commit to providing mental health services and coordinating other supportive services as a condition of funding.

Counties may apply for the funds, which are categorized as loans repayable to the state, on either a non-competitive or competitive basis.

The non-competitive allocation of approximately $190 million, will be distributed on a formula basis to each county based on their 2017 homeless Point-in-Time Count. Each county that applies will receive a minimum allocation of $500,000. Project applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until Feb. 15, 2021.

Up to $1.8 billion will be made available through the competitive application process with an anticipated $200 million available in the first round, which is expected to open in fall 2018. Counties will compete for funding in groups based on population size:

Los Angeles County
Large counties (population greater than 750,000)
Medium counties (population between 200,000 to 750,000)
Small counties (population less than 200,000)

HCD may designate Los Angeles County and other counties with 5 percent or more of the state’s homeless population to self-administer their NPLH fund allocations using an HCD-approved distribution method. Additional information about the program is available on the HCD website.

Maureen Richey, Associate, specializes in strategies to address criminal justice recidivism among individuals with mental illness and housing instability.  She has also worked for the Council of States Governments Justice Center, the Alliance for Children and Families, and ICF International.  She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago and a master’s degree in Public Policy from Duke University. She can be reached at