On a single night in 2016, more than 118,000 people experienced homelessness in California — 22 percent of the entire nation’s homeless population.
California also has the highest number of unaccompanied youth, veterans and chronically homeless in the United States, with nearly one-third of the nation’s youth, nearly one-fourth of the nation’s homeless veterans, and more than one-third of the nation’s chronically homeless residents. Most of California’s homeless population resides in major metropolitan areas; however, homelessness impacts communities of all sizes and people experience homelessness throughout all regions of the state.
The availability of affordable homes is an important part of addressing California’s housing needs, but many households bear additional challenges. For example, a person exiting homelessness may not have the credit or rental history required to rent an apartment, even if they have financial assistance, or they may need a variety of services to help them transition and stabilize.
Even with federal Housing Choice Vouchers that assist with rent, many households are still unable to find affordable homes. In many high-cost markets, the amount of rent a federal Housing Choice Vouchers will cover is capped based on the Federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Fair Market Rent, which can fall significantly below the market rent. This, combined with too few available rentals and landlords who are unwilling to accept vouchers at all is exacerbating the problem
In addition to policy work on homelessness, HCD administers the following programs:
- Emergency Solutions Grant program
- Supportive Housing Multifamily Housing program
- Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention program
- No Place Like Home
- Homeless Youth Multifamily Housing program
Following two-and-a half years of work, in 2016, HCD released a redesigned state Emergency Solutions Grant program (ESG). The updated program better aligns with the federal Homeless Emergency Assistance and Transition to Housing Act and increases coordination of state investment, federal investment, and local systems that address homelessness. HCD shared the redesigned program's changes via roundtable meetings with regional bodies that coordinate homelessness efforts (continuums of care) and webinars. HCD prepared the 2016 ESG application and rating tool for scoring the applications. In May 2016, HCD released an ESG NOFA for approximately $20 million, and subsequently, made awards in September 2016 (FY 2016-17).