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Homelessness in California
The State’s Uncoordinated Approach to Addressing Homelessness Has Hampered the Effectiveness of Its Efforts

Report Number: 2020-112

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Appendix A

State-adminstered Programs That Provided Funding to Address Homelessness, Fiscal Years 2018–19 Through 2020–21

As we discuss in Chapter 1, the State lacks a single oversight entity that coordinates the funds that it allocates to local governments and service providers to combat homelessness. According to homeless council staff, the council does not currently have the statutory authority to collect expenditure data from other state agencies and has not been able to track program spending to date. We found that at least nine state agencies have provided funding during fiscal years 2018–19 through 2020–21 through 41 programs to address homelessness in the State. For example, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services administers nine programs that provide homelessness funding, while the California Department of Social Services administers six such programs. Table A presents the state agencies that administered the various programs, the purposes of the programs, and the funding amounts available under each program from fiscal years 2018–19 through 2020–21. In each of the three fiscal years, the 41 programs provided $4 billion or more in total funding.

Table A

State Agencies That Administer Programs Related to Homelessness
Administering Agency Program Name* Purpose of Program Fiscal year 2018–19 Fiscal year 2019–20 Fiscal year 2020–21
Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency COVID‑19 Pandemic Emergency Grant Funding Program To provide assistance related to the impacts of COVID‑19. Specifically, to safely get individuals into shelter, to provide immediate housing options, and to help protect the health and safety of people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic.  $–  $100,000,000  $–
Homeless Emergency Aid Program  To provide homelessness prevention activities, criminal justice diversion programs for homeless individuals with mental health needs, establishing or expanding services meeting the needs of homeless youth or youth at risk of homelessness, and emergency aid.  500,000,000
Homeless Housing, Assistance, and Prevention Program To provide local jurisdictions with funds to support regional coordination and to expand or develop local capacity to address their immediate homelessness challenges.  650,000,000  330,000,000
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Transitional Housing Program To provide housing and support services upon release for those who have been incarcerated for long terms. 15,930,000 16,705,000 18,585,000
California Department of Education Education for Homeless Children and Youth Grant Program To facilitate the identification, enrollment, attendance, and success in school of children and youth who are experiencing homelessness.  10,564,000  11,328,000  12,204,000
Homeless Youth Assessment Fee Waiver Program To fund state costs to implement and report on legislative requirements that a test registration fee not be charged to youth or foster youth experiencing homelessness who are taking either the California High School Proficiency Examination or an approved high school equivalency test.  21,000  21,000
Department of Health Care Services Health Homes Program  To provide intensive care coordination, as well as housing navigation and tenancy‑sustaining case management services for members who are homeless or recently housed as part of the program.  3,638,000 94,637,000  203,895,000
Homeless Mentally Ill Outreach and Treatment One‑Time Funding To fund multidisciplinary teams engaged in intensive outreach, treatment, and related services for people who are homeless and have mental illnesses.  50,000,000
Mental Health Services Act, Community Services and Support Component To acquire, rehabilitate, or construct supportive housing; provide rental assistance, security deposits, utility payments, moving cost assistance; and for project‑based housing, including master leasing units; and outreach.  1,664,900,000 1,758,500,000 1,318,500,000 
Whole Person Care Pilot Program To serve Medi‑Cal members with complex medical conditions who are frequent users of multiple health systems, including members who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. 600,000,000 600,000,000 600,000,000
Whole Person Care Pilots One‑Time Housing Funds To support housing and housing supportive services for Medi‑Cal enrollees who are mentally ill and are experiencing homelessness, or who are at risk of homelessness.   100,000,000
Department of Housing and Community Development California Emergency Solutions and Housing Program To provide funds for a variety of activities to assist people experiencing or at risk of homelessness through five primary activities: housing relocation and stabilization services, operating subsidies for permanent housing, flexible housing subsidy funds, operating support for emergency housing interventions, and system supports for homeless services and housing delivery systems.  53,000,000  29,000,000
  Community Development Block Grant Program To partner with rural cities and counties to improve the lives of their low‑ and moderate‑income residents through the creation and expansion of community and economic development opportunities in support of livable communities. Eligible activities include public services such as health, nutrition, and homeless services.  60,000,000  30,000,000
  Community Development Block Grant Program ‑ Coronavirus Response To perform activities related to the pandemic response and recovery. The CARES Act provides extra funds specifically targeted to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the pandemic. This includes facility improvements related to COVID‑19 health care and housing needs for homeless individuals.  139,500,000
  Emergency Solutions Grants Program To provide funds to engage individuals and families living on the street, rapidly rehouse individuals and families who are homeless, help operate and provide essential services in emergency shelters, and prevent individuals and families from becoming homeless.  11,000,000  11,000,000  11,000,000
  Emergency Solutions Grants Program ‑ Coronavirus To prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID‑19 among individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness or are receiving homeless assistance and to support additional homeless assistance and homelessness prevention activities to mitigate the impacts created by the pandemic.  295,000,000
  Homekey To provide grants to local public entities to acquire and rehabilitate a variety of housing types to provide housing for individuals and families experiencing homelessness or at risk of experiencing homelessness who are affected by the pandemic.  800,000,000
  Housing for a Healthy California Program To provide permanent supportive housing for individuals who are chronically homeless or are homeless and have high medical costs.  82,400,000  27,300,000
  Local Housing Trust Fund Program To provide loans to pay for construction or rehabilitation of affordable rental housing projects, emergency shelters, permanent supportive housing, transitional housing, and affordable homebuyer and homeowner projects. 57,000,000
  No Place Like Home Program ‑ Competitive To finance permanent supportive housing for individuals or families with a serious mental illness who are homeless, chronically homeless, or at risk of chronic homelessness. 400,000,000 622,029,000 202,040,000
  No Place Like Home Program ‑ Noncompetitive To finance permanent supportive housing for individuals or families with a serious mental illness who are homeless, chronically homeless, or at risk of chronic homelessness.  190,000,000  48,070,000
  Permanent Local Housing Allocation Program ‑ Competitive Component Prioritizes assistance to people experiencing or at risk of homelessness and investments that increase the supply of housing to households with incomes of 60 percent or less of area median income. 15,000,000
  Supportive Housing Multifamily Housing Program To provide low‑interest, deferred‑payment loans to developers of permanent, affordable rental housing that contain supportive housing units for the target population, which are individuals and families that are homeless.  77,000,000
  Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Program†§ To provide for the acquisition, construction, rehabilitation, and preservation of affordable multifamily housing for veterans and their families to allow veterans to access and maintain housing stability.  75,000,000  75,000,000  75,000,000
California Department of Social Services Bringing Families Home Program To reduce the number of families in the child welfare system experiencing or at risk of homelessness, to increase family reunification, and to prevent foster care placement.  25,000,000
CalWORKs Homeless Assistance To provide payments for temporary shelter and payments to secure or maintain housing for eligible CalWORKs recipients who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.  64,467,000  68,088,000  41,603,000
CalWORKs Housing Support Program To provide housing support, including financial assistance, housing stabilization, and relocation services, to CalWORKs recipients who are experiencing homelessness or housing instability.  70,838,000  95,000,000  95,000,000
Home Safe Program To support the safety and housing stability of individuals involved in Adult Protective Services by providing housing‑related assistance using evidence‑based practices for homeless assistance and prevention.  15,000,000
Housing and Disability Advocacy Program To assist disabled individuals who are experiencing homelessness in applying for disability benefit programs while also providing housing assistance.  25,000,000  25,000,000
School Supplies for Homeless Children Fund To collect contributions that will be used to provide school supplies and health‑related products to children experiencing homelessness.  380,000  676,000  590,000
California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services Domestic Violence Assistance Program To provide shelter, transitional housing, and supportive services for domestic violence victims and their children.  64,000,000  55,000,000 55,000,000
Domestic Violence Housing First Program To assist victims of domestic violence in obtaining and retaining safe, permanent housing as modeled after an evidence‑based form of rapid rehousing adapted to move and rehouse domestic violence victims, who are homeless, into permanent housing quickly and provide ongoing tailored services.  9,600,000  22,089,000  22,752,000
Equality in Prevention and Services for Domestic Violence Program To maintain and expand domestic violence services for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) communities that will increase access to culturally appropriate domestic violence, education, prevention, outreach, and services for these unserved or underserved communities.  423,000  423,000  423,000
  Homeless Youth and Exploitation Program To help homeless youth exit street life by providing outreach services, food, temporary safe shelter, in‑person counseling, group counseling, basic health care, long‑term stabilization planning, independent living and survival skills, access to or referrals to other services as appropriate, and follow‑up services.  1,077,000  1,077,000  1,088,000
Homeless Youth Emergency Services and Housing Program To establish or expand access to a range of housing options and provide crisis intervention and stabilization services to homeless youth.  6,337,000
Human Trafficking Victim Assistance Program To provide safety and supportive services to help human‑trafficking victims recover from the trauma they have experienced and assist with their reintegration into society. These services include a 24‑hour hotline, emergency shelter, temporary housing, emergency food and clothing, counseling, referrals, transportation, and legal services.  10,000,000  10,000,000  10,000,000 
Native American Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Program To provide cultural competency trainings to agencies and other regional service providers on issues related to Native American women victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.  813,000  813,000  813,000
Specialized Emergency Housing To maintain and expand emergency shelter and emergency housing assistance resources in California and to provide specialized services for victims of crime, with priority given to funding applicants that propose to serve homeless youth, elderly, disabled, and LGBTQ victims of crime.  4,888,000  9,500,000  9,680,000
Transitional Housing Program To provide transitional housing, short‑term housing assistance, and supportive services that move crime victims into permanent housing.  9,600,000  18,000,000  17,514,000
California Housing Finance Agency Special Needs Housing Program  To allow local governments to use Mental Health Services Act and other local funds to provide financing for the development of permanent supportive rental housing that includes units dedicated for individuals with serious mental illness and their families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.  20,467,800  32,860,000 36,764,000
California Tax Credit Allocation Committee Low‑Income Housing Tax Credit Program To allocate tax credits to encourage private investments in the development of affordable rental housing. 107,000,000 109,000,000 110,600,000
9 41   $4,029,606,000 $4,704,482,000 $4,594,922,000

Source: Review of the homeless council’s California State Homelessness Funding Programs; the budget acts of 2018, 2019, and 2020; state and federal laws; and agencies’ websites and notices of funding available.

* Based on our review, this table presents a list of California programs intended to address various aspects of homelessness.

The homeless council identified these programs, in September 2018, as programs that provide homelessness funding.

§ State law requires the Department of Housing and Community Development, the California Housing and Finance Agency, and the California Department of Veterans Affairs to work collaboratively pursuant to a memorandum of understanding to carry out the duties associated with this program.

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Appendix B


As we describe in the Introduction, federal law gives CoCs responsibility over four primary functions. CoCs are responsible for conducting a periodic PIT count of the total number and demographics of all sheltered and unsheltered people who reside within their geographic area and are experiencing homelessness. CoCs must also use a single database—known as an HMIS—to record and analyze information, services, and housing data for individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness within the CoC. In addition, a CoC is required to help its network of service providers assess and prioritize people who are in most need of homelessness assistance through a coordinated entry process. Finally, CoCs must design and operate a process for developing, evaluating, and submitting service providers’ applications for CoC Program funds to HUD. Figure B describes the requirements, methodology, and benefits associated with each of these responsibilities.

Figure B

CoCs’ Primary Responsibilities Under Federal Law

A chart describing the four primary areas of responsibilities for a CoC.

Source: Federal law and documents obtained from HUD and CoCs.

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Appendix C

Scope and Methodology

The Joint Legislative Audit Committee (Audit Committee) directed the California State Auditor to perform an audit of selected CoCs to assess best practices related to the services they provide to those experiencing homelessness. Table C lists the audit objectives and the methods we used to address them.

Table C

Audit Objectives and the Methods Used to Address Them
Audit Objective Method
1 Review and evaluate the laws, rules, and regulations significant to the audit objectives. Reviewed relevant federal and state laws, rules, and regulations related to CoCs and their responsibilities.
2 Review the selected CoCs’ planning and strategies for administering services to those experiencing homelessness and determine best practices of, and resources necessary for, service coordination with local nonprofits and other homeless service agencies.
  • Obtained from HUD’s website data related to individuals experiencing homelessness and the CoC Program grants provided within each CoC. We also obtained total population data from the California Department of Finance website. Using these data, we judgmentally selected five CoCs covering a large county in Southern California, a county on the Central Coast, a county in the Bay Area, a county in the San Joaquin Valley, and a county in the Northern Coast area.
  • Interviewed staff and reviewed pertinent documentation at each selected CoC regarding their planning efforts and strategies.
  • Reviewed information regarding effective planning from national organizations, HUD, and other states to identify best practices.
3 Identify effective strategies for CoCs to conduct accurate annual counts of those experiencing homelessness in coordination with other homeless service agencies.
  • Interviewed staff and reviewed documentation to understand how and how often each CoC conducts PIT counts of those experiencing homelessness.
  • Determined whether each CoC’s PIT count methodology conforms with HUD’s guidance.
  • Assessed each CoC’s coordination with other service providers in planning and conducting PIT counts and identified best practices.
  • Reviewed available best practices, including best practices identified or employed by HUD and other states for effective strategies to plan and conduct PIT counts.
4 Determine the necessary resources and internal protocols for CoCs to measure the effectiveness of their programs, including collecting, retaining, and analyzing complete and accurate data. Identify any barriers the CoCs have experienced in collecting, retaining, and analyzing such data and best practices or tools the CoCs use to overcome these barriers.
  • Reviewed each CoC’s policies and procedures for completing the annual CoC performance reports and assessing project performance.
  • Reviewed CoC documentation and procedures, and determined that each CoC has processes in place to assess the accuracy and completeness of data in its HMIS.
  • Interviewed CoC staff to understand the process for and barriers to collecting and analyzing data from service providers.
  • Interviewed staff from the homeless council to understand what actions the State is taking to help CoCs gather consistent data from all service providers.
  • Interviewed staff from the states of Washington, Maryland, and Virginia to determine whether these states have a statewide data‑collection system and to identify best practices for ensuring complete data.
5 Verify the extent to which each CoC collaborates with nonprofit organizations to increase its outreach and service provided to those experiencing homelessness.
  • Interviewed staff to determine how and for what purposes the CoCs collaborate with service providers.
  • Determined the adequacy of any analyses the CoCs have conducted to identify and address lack of services in any geographic areas within their areas.
  • Reviewed the CoCs’ efforts to collaborate to assess the needs of and provide services to those experiencing homelessness.
  • Interviewed staff and reviewed documentation of the outreach efforts each CoC’s coordinated entry system lead has conducted in the past three years to reach, assess, and provide services to those facing homelessness.
  • Compared and assessed the adequacy and effectiveness of each CoC’s coordinated entry system lead’s outreach methods to the homeless population to identify any best practices.
6 Identify opportunities or incentives the State could provide CoCs to work collaboratively with nonprofit and other service organizations to secure additional federal funding to assist those experiencing homelessness.
  • Reviewed federal regulations and interviewed key staff from HUD and the CoCs and determined that little opportunity exists for CoCs to receive additional federal funding.
  • In light of the increased state funding for homelessness, interviewed the homeless council and reviewed available documents to determine how the State provides funds to CoCs and whether opportunities exist to increase the level of coordination among CoCs and service providers.
7 To the extent possible, determine whether structural changes or resources are needed to ensure the CoCs obtain complete and accurate data at each point of the funding process, including during the evaluation of applications from service providers.
  • Interviewed staff and reviewed documentation to determine the process and structure each CoC has in place to evaluate and rank service provider applications for CoC Program funding.
  • Assessed each CoC’s policies, procedures, and structure to determine whether they are adequate to ensure appropriate or fair awarding of CoC Program funds.
  • Compared the policies, procedures, and structure of the five CoCs to identify any best practices.
  • Interviewed staff and reviewed documentation for a random selection of up to three applications for funding at each CoC to determine whether the CoCs followed their review‑and‑rank process.
8 Determine methods for CoCs to increase the quality and number of service providers, including methods to do the following:  
a. Collect and report the number of eligible service providers within the CoC area.
  • Interviewed CoC staff and reviewed relevant documentation to determine the extent to which CoCs identify and track eligible service providers within the area.
b. Isolate reasons that providers do not apply for certain requests for proposals.
  • Interviewed staff to determine, to the extent possible, why service providers do not apply for certain requests for proposals.
c. Identify the qualities of service providers to which CoCs award funds.
  • Objective 7 explains our methods related to reviewing and documenting how CoCs evaluate and rank projects for CoC Program awards.
d. Measure the effect that service providers have on homelessness.
  • Reviewed the performance reports that each CoC developed and submitted to HUD in the last four years.
  • Objective 4 describes our methods related to reviewing and documenting whether each CoC has policies and procedures in place to ensure data quality.
e. Identify geographic areas within the CoC that have insufficient or no services for those experiencing homelessness and the reasons why these areas have inadequate resources.
  • Interviewed CoC staff to determine whether each CoC’s coordinated entry process is accessible in all parts of its area.
  • To the extent possible, reviewed any analyses the CoCs conducted to identify geographic areas that lacked services or service providers and the actions the CoCs took to address these inadequacies.
9 Identify any best practices at the CoCs for improving accountability and the efficiency and effectiveness of services to those experiencing homelessness that other CoCs could use to improve their efforts.
  • Interviewed HUD staff and conducted research to select states that were likely to have best practices. We interviewed staff in a selection of these states, including the ones listed for Objective 4, to identify best practices that California could implement.
  • Using results from the work of objectives 2 through 8, identified best practices for improving accountability and the efficiency and effectiveness of services to those experiencing homelessness.
10 Review and assess any other issues that are significant to the audit. Interviewed homeless council staff to determine the extent to which it provides guidance and best practices to CoCs and coordinates state funding and data.

Source: Audit Committee’s audit request number 2020‑112, planning documents, and information and documentation identified in the table column titled Method.

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