Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) Program


Application, General Program, and Standard Agreements Questions


The federal Emergency Solutions Grant program (ESG) provides funds for a variety of activities to address homelessness as authorized under the federal Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act of 2009 and State program requirements.  The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) administers the ESG program with funding received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The ESG program provides grant funding to (1) engage homeless individuals and families living on the street, (2) rapidly re-house homeless individuals and families, (3) help operate and provide essential services in emergency shelters for homeless individuals and families, and (4) prevent individuals and families from becoming homeless.

In 2016, in an effort to align the Department's ESG funds with the HEARTH Act priorities, HCD has redesigned how it allocates and distributes funding.   The redesigned ESG program aims to do the following: Align with local systems’ federal ESG and HEARTH goals, invest in impactful activities based on key performance goals and outcomes, improve geographic distribution of funded activities and continuity of funded activities, and create a streamlined delivery mechanism.

Assistance Type and Terms

HCD distributes federal Emergency Solutions Grant funds to eligible subrecipients with one- or two-year grants. 

Eligible Activities

ESG funds may be used for four primary activities: Street Outreach, Rapid Re-Housing Assistance, Emergency Shelter, and Homelessness Prevention.  In addition, ESG funds may be used for associated Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) costs and administrative activities for some subrecipients.  Refer to the current Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for any limitations on these activities.

Eligible Applicants and Eligible Areas to Be Served

The Department subgrants its funding to subrecipients in Continuum of Care (CoC) service areas that have at least one jurisdiction that does not receive ESG funds directly from HUD (“Nonentitlement”).   In the CoC Allocation, local governmental entities are eligible subrecipients, who in turn select homeless service providers to receive the funds.  In the Balance of State Allocation, private nonprofit organizations or units of general purpose local government are eligible subrecipients that receive ESG funds directly from the Department. (The two allocations are described further below.)

State ESG–funded activities may serve the entire service area of the CoC, but must serve Nonentitlement areas within the service area.  For a list of CoC Service Areas eligible to participate in the State’s ESG program, refer to Appendix A of the current NOFA.

Application Process and Distribution of Funds

HCD allocates its funding to the State’s CoC service areas using a formula method set forth under Section 8402 of the State ESG Regulations to two allocations.

Continuum of Care (CoC) Allocation

CoCs within this allocation have at least one city or county that receives ESG funds directly from HUD.  Within the CoC Allocation, Administrative Entities (AEs) are selected by the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) to administer an allocation of funds provided through a formula for their service area.  These AEs must be local governments of ESG Entitlement Areas and must commit to administering ESG funds in collaboration with their CoC throughout their CoC Service Area, including ensuring access to ESG funds by households living in Nonentitlement Areas.  A minimum of 40 percent of each AE Allocation must be used for Rapid Rehousing activities.  

CoC Allocation Administrative Entity Contact List (PDF)
New! 2019 Continuum of Care Awards (PDF)

Balance of State (BoS) Allocation

CoCs within this allocation have no cities or counties that receive ESG funds directly from HUD.

Within the BoS Allocation, CoCs may select providers to receive a portion of funds available noncompetitively for Rapid Rehousing (RR).  HCD will administer these contracts with providers.  Remaining funds within the BoS Allocation will be divided into three regional allocations.  CoCs will recommend homeless service providers to compete for these funds within their regional allocation under a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) issued by HCD.

Balance of State Allocation CoC Contact List (PDF)
New! 2019 Balance of State -Competitive Awards (PDF)
New! 2019 Balance of State – Noncompetitive Awards (PDF)

California ESG Program

The 2016-17 budget bill, SB 837 (Section 72), created the California Emergency Solutions Grants (CA ESG) Program for which $35 million has been made available to support rapid rehousing, emergency shelter, and other services to address homelessness throughout the State.  The legislation provides that the CA ESG program shall be administered by the Department in a manner generally consistent with the Federal ESG Program, and requires the Department to adopt program guidelines to address changes that may be needed to expand the program to cover all areas of the State, or to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the program. Funds for CA ESG were available in 2017.

Guidelines and Regulations

Get Funding

Current NOFAs

ESG NOFA for the Continuum of Care (CoC) Allocation & Application Forms

ESG NOFA for the Balance of State (BoS) Allocation & Application Forms


Program Forms

Current ESG Forms

Federal Statute

Check the HUD Exchange for:

  • the text of The Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Act of 2009 (HEARTH Act), and
  • the “homeless” definition contained in the HEARTH Act Final Rule.

Management Memos

  • 16-01 (DOC) – Administrative entity 2016 ESG Administrative Processes - Revised 06/02/2016
  • 16-02 (DOC) – Balance of State Continuum of Care 2016 ESG Administrative Processes - Revised 06/02/2016
  • Training, Technical Assistance, and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


    Plans & Reports

    • 2015-2025 Statewide Housing Plan
    • California Inter-Regional Partnership (IRP) Program Final Report (2005)
    • The Future of Infill Housing: Opportunities, Potential, Feasibility and Demand (2005)
    • Recommendations of the Interagency Task Force on Homelessness (2003)
    • Raising the Roof - California Housing Development Projections and Constraints (2001)
    • Housing: California's Foundation for Economic Growth (PDF)
    • Draft Substantial Amendment to 2015-16 Annual Action Plan and Public Notice (PDF)
    • 2010-2015 California Consolidated Plan
    • Annual Plan, CAPER (updated annually)