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Controversy Over Who Gets Access To Amenities Surrounds Downtown High-Rise Project

“But the so-called poor-door approach — having a separate entrance and limited access to facilities — might be violating federal fair housing laws, said Sasha Harnden, a housing policy advocate with the Western Center on Law & Poverty.

“When a given action may have a disproportionate impact on a protected class, such as people of a certain race, elderly tenants, families with children, that can incur fair housing liability, that can be a prohibited practice even if it’s not intentional discrimination,” he said.”

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AB 1482 – California Rent Cap & Just Cause for Eviction Resources

The passage of AB 1482 was a HUGE win for California renters – enshrining into state law some of the strongest anti-rent gouging and just cause for eviction protections in the country. We are working with local legal aid partners to ensure that the new laws are enforced, and renters are protected. This webinar is a resource for those working to stop unfair and unlawful evictions.

We thank our co-sponsors, partners, and colleagues around the state for their support in securing AB 1482’s passage and for their local advocacy and assistance to ensure its successful implementation.

Below you will find sample pleadings, letters, and a webinar to help stop pre-1482 evictions, as well as information and background on AB 1482:

 

FAIR HOUSING FOR OUR FUTURE: Laws & Litigation Conference – February 12-14, 2020

To receive MCLE credit for the 2020 Fair Housing For Our Future Laws & Litigation Conference, please do the following:

  1. Sign the MCLE attendance sheet in in the room where the session was presented
  2. Fill out an evaluation for each sessions you attended using the links below
  3. Provide your email address

MCLE certificates will be emailed to you within 10 business days.

Day 1: MCLE for sessions on Wednesday, Feb. 12

  • Updates Regarding Fair Lending
  • Successful Housing Civil Rights Litigation and Legislation
  • Section 504- History of What the Law Provides and Who the Law Protects
  • The Mechanics and Enforcement Components of the Law
  • Basic Coverage of Fair Housing Laws
  • How a City Can Avoid A Large Systemic Lawsuit like the Ones in Los Angeles and Chicago

Day 2: MCLE for sessions on Thursday, Feb. 13

  • Update on Revisions, New Regulations and Future Laws or Pending Policies
  • Fair Housing from the Past to the Future- Trending Updates
  • Unlawful Detainers and Fair Housing A Workshop for Attorneys -Advocates and others-Part I
  • Research and Anecdotal Cases that Broaden the Lens of Housing Discrimination Damages

Day 3: MCLE for sessions on Friday, Feb. 14

  • Source of Income Discrimination and Comments on “Moving Toward Integration”
  • Legal Ethical Considerations for Advocates and Attorneys
  • Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing
  • Updates on Hate Crimes and Litigation Impacting Immigrants
  • Unlawful Detainers and Fair Housing- A Workshop for Attorneys-Advocates and others Part II
  • Fair Housing Updates on Sexual Harassment-Criminal Justice Reform- Disparate Impact

Statement on SB 50

Reacting to the failure of SB 50 to move out of the Senate, the groups Alliance for Community Transit-Los Angeles (ACT-LA), PolicyLink, Western Center on Law and Poverty, Public Advocates, and the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation made the following statement:

It is time to reject false choices and get serious about affordable housing and community stability.

The debate around SB 50, and SB 827 before it, has too often been reduced to a false choice: protect the status quo of exclusionary zoning or embrace a trickle-down market-based model. While this simple NIMBY-YIMBY binary fuels online arguments and frames the public narrative, millions of Californians continue to suffer without appropriate solutions. We reject the status quo, but we also reject the notion that the low-income communities and communities of color most harmed by the planning and zoning decisions of the past should be forced to accept new policies that fall short of true equity and inclusion.

Last week, a group of 28 community-based and statewide organizations that have been in negotiations with the author and sponsors of SB 50 took an “oppose unless amended” position on the bill. We took this position only after 15 months of discussion to resolve our concerns. The issues we have raised are critical to ensure that zoning reform does not make the housing crisis worse for low-income renters. Despite important improvements to the bill, SB 50 was not bold enough or targeted enough to address the affordable housing needs of low-income Californians and did not include meaningful protections for communities most sensitive to displacement.

After the final SB 50 vote, Senate President Toni Atkins rightly acknowledged that there is still much work to be done to address the housing crisis and called for substantive alternatives. Our organizations have and will continue to put forward tangible community-centered proposals for inclusive and equitable development. We have supported and sponsored legislation that breaks down barriers to new inclusive housing development in historically exclusionary neighborhoods and we have put forward thoughtful and nuanced frameworks to maximize deeply affordable housing production and protect vulnerable low-income neighborhoods. These ideas did not die with SB 50, and we remain committed to working with any elected official who is ready to do the difficult but necessary work of moving past false choices and finding real solutions.

Contacts:
Anya Lawler, (916) 798-2968, alawler[at]wclp.org
Mariana Huerta Jones, (323) 747-0699, mhuerta[at]allianceforcommunitytransit.org

The City of San Clemente backed away from an inhumane homeless ordinance, but it’s the tip of the iceberg in California

By Alex Prieto, Western Center Senior Litigator

Last month, after pressure from a case filed by Western Center and our partners, Emergency Shelter Coalition v. City of San Clemente, San Clemente passed an emergency repeal of a deeply inhumane ordinance targeting people experiencing homelessness. The ordinance would have forced anyone without a place to sleep to camp at a storage lot next to a waste treatment plant. The City made the repeal permanent this week.

The ordinance was the latest in a series passed by San Clemente targeting the City’s growing homeless population. Sadly, the City’s actions reflect an approach to homelessness that is common in California, aimed at pushing the problem out of public view rather than addressing it in a meaningful way.

In 2018, San Clemente enacted an ordinance similar to those adopted by many California cities, which criminalized camping by those experiencing homelessness. The City was forced to amend the law in response to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Martin v. Boise, which said it is unconstitutional to punish someone for sleeping outdoors on public land when alternative shelter is unavailable.

But the City’s amendment did not mark a change in attitude. After Martin, San Clemente still clung to its same shortsighted approach to homelessness, and remained focused on citing and arresting people for living on the street, sleeping in public, and other unavoidable offenses. The ordinance challenged in our Emergency Shelter Coalition case was a product of that approach.

At the City Council meeting where San Clemente adopted the ordinance, Emergency Shelter Coalition, the plaintiff in the case, offered the City an alternative: a financial donation to fund an indoor homeless shelter, and land for a location. San Clemente opted instead to force its homeless population to camp at the site near the waste treatment plant, which the City previously rejected as the location for an animal shelter due to safety concerns. This choice shows that the City wasn’t interested in providing adequate shelter for people experiencing homelessness.

The City’s decision to repeal the ordinance came only after sustained pressure from our case — a victory against the criminalization of homelessness. But the notion that criminal enforcement is a solution to homelessness continues to attract politicians and administrators peddling quick fixes.

Exhibit A: a proposed 2020 state ballot initiative by former Assemblyman Mike Gatto, which takes the debunked idea that California can arrest its way out of a homeless crisis to disturbing extremes. The initiative requires law enforcement officers to set aside other priorities to make mandatory arrests for certain offenses, mostly minor nuisance violations. It then requires judges to impose the maximum sentence on anyone found to have a mental health or drug addiction issue. Judges would also be authorized to order that sentences be served in locked mental health and drug treatment facilities.

If enacted, the initiative will result in the mass institutionalization of people deemed mentally unwell at the discretion of police and judges.

Gatto claims the initiative will connect people to financial and housing assistance, but this is only window dressing – the measure provides no funding for housing or homeless services. The only financial assistance it refers to is General Relief, an existing program that already provides far less aid than necessary to obtain housing and meet basic needs. In Los Angeles County, for example, the maximum General Relief payment is $221.00 per month.

Such superficial gestures should not distract from what the initiative really is: a destructive non-solution that will trample the rights of people with mental health disabilities. It is an example of the “out of sight, out of mind” approach to homelessness at its worst.

Moreover, this approach also perpetuates wider systemic inequities, both historic and current. In a country and state that continues to struggle with racialized policing practices, it makes no sense to impose mandatory arrests and maximum sentences on an already marginalized population that is disproportionately Black.

Criminalizing homelessness does nothing to solve a long-term crisis resulting from entrenched inequities in housing access, economic opportunity, the criminal justice system, and medical and mental health services. But it does allow cities to push the visual evidence of the issue temporarily out of sight. Cities too often assert that some people experiencing homelessness will eventually move to other cities when faced with the constant threat of arrest, which allows them to treat homelessness as someone else’s problem.

Harmful policies like San Clemente’s now-repealed ordinance and Gatto’s proposed ballot measure move the state backwards when we should be investing in real solutions, like increased funding for deeply affordable housing and significant increases in General Relief grants. Western Center will continue to advocate for sustainable state and local policies that actually work, and we will fight those seeking to expand the criminalization of homelessness in court.

 

Full Analysis of Governor Newsom’s proposed 2020-2021 state budget

For a PDF of this analysis, click here.

Last week, Governor Newsom unveiled his $222 billion 2020-21 budget proposal. Western Center’s summary of the proposal can be found here.

The state is in its 11th year of increasing tax revenue, and estimates a $5.6 billion budget surplus over existing obligations. The budget continues the practice of prioritizing saving state revenue for future years by increasing the Rainy Day fund to $18 billion and paying down state debts to reduce state payments in future years.

Governor Newsom is focused on addressing many long standing issues, particularly the homelessness and housing crisis. The budget proposes to allocate $1.4 billion to a variety of solutions, including $750 million in one-time funding to shore up board and care facilities, provide rental assistance to those at risk of or experiencing homelessness, and to fund adaptive re-use of existing structures to create additional housing that people experiencing homelessness can afford. The budget also includes substantial new funding for health care, including a proposal for the state to manufacture prescription medications and to expand health care to undocumented seniors.

The budget proposal does not include the third step of CalWORKs funding that would bring grants to 55 percent of the federal poverty level. Instead, the budget proposes a 3.1 percent increase for CalWORKs grants in October 2020. The budget also provides no increase in state funding for Supplemental Security Income (SSI/SSP) grants, keeping in place recession era cuts that have still not been restored.

Homelessness

The Governor’s budget proposes $750 million in one-time funds to be deposited in the new California Access to Housing and Services Fund, which the Governor recently created by executive order. The fund would be administered by the Department of Social Services, which would allocate dollars to “regional administrators” to be used to provide short- and long-term rental subsidies to people at risk of or experiencing homelessness, create additional housing units affordable to people with extremely low-incomes, and stabilize licensed board and care facilities around the state. How funds would be allocated and administered remains open to negotiation.

Housing

The budget proposes a one-time $500 million increase in the state Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, which funds the production and rehabilitation of housing affordable primarily to households with incomes between 30% and 80% of area median income (AMI).

Financial Security

CalWORKs: CalWORKs has gone through a period of substantial investment. In 2019, the budget included funding for a 13 percent grant increase, expanded the earned income disregard to $500 a month, and stabilized CalWORKs child care for families. This budget is not as ambitious as prior years, though it does provide a 3.1 percent increase in grants beginning October 2020. This will increase grants for a family of three by about $25 a month. However, it was anticipated that CalWORKs grants would be raised to 55 percent of the federal poverty level to ensure no child lives in deep poverty. This budget proposal will not achieve that goal.

The budget does include funding to increase the CalWORKs child support pass through. Under current law, the first $50 of child support paid by the non-custodial parent goes to the CalWORKs family, but any amount over that is used to pay for the cost of welfare benefits to the state and federal government. Beginning January 2022, CalWORKs families with one child will keep the first $100 of child support, and families with two or more children will keep the first $200 of child support.

We are grateful the Governor heard parents and families in their call for a child support program that works for children. The increases to child support pass through and relief from government-owed, uncollectable debt proposed by the Governor look like a good start. We are eager to see the associated proposed trailer bill law changes so we have more details, and look forward to working with the Governor and legislature to achieve the goals of conforming with federal law and regulation, and ensuring the program works to benefit the children it purports to help.

Fines and Fees: The budget proposes to expand the traffic court ability to pay pilot program statewide. Currently, an eight county pilot program (operational in four counties) allows persons to adjudicate traffic tickets through an online portal and reduce fines by at least 50 percent for low income drivers. The budget would expand this pilot statewide over several years to all counties. The pilot has yet to be evaluated.

Additionally, the budget makes a $92 million investment in reducing criminal justice fees and their harmful, recidivistic impact on people with low-incomes and people of color, their families, and their communities. We are grateful to Budget Chair Mitchell for her leadership on this issue and look forward to working on details with her, the Governor, and other budget leaders.

SSI/SSP: The SSI/SSP caseload continues to decline, and as a result, state funding for the state supplemental program (SSP) is declining. In the 2020-21 budget the administration projects a 1.6 percent decline in SSP spending to $2.66 billion, down from $2.73 billion in the 2019-20 budget. This continues a trend of declining state spending for disabled and elderly adults. As recently as the 2016-17 budget, the state spent $2.87 billion. Rather than invest savings from caseload declines into grants, the savings are going into the General Fund for other purposes. SSI/SSP grants are critical for paying the cost of housing; this failure to invest in SSI grants will put more recipients at risk of homelessness.

Health care

Expands full-scope Medi-Cal to all income-eligible undocumented adults age 65+ (Health4AllSeniors): Building on the 2019 Budget, which made California the first in the nation to expand full-scope Medi-Cal to adults up to age 26 regardless of immigration status, the Governor’s recent proposal includes $80.5 million ($64.2 million General Fund) to expand full-scope Medi-Cal to all income-eligible undocumented adults age 65 and older. This would benefit about 27,000 older adults, to be implemented no sooner than January 1, 2021. Full implementation costs are projected to be approximately $350 million ($320 million General Fund) in 2022-23 and ongoing.

Delays 2019 Budget Act suspensions from December 31, 2021 to July 1, 2023: The 2019 Budget made important Medi-Cal investments that were to be suspended on December 31, 2021 and the proposal delays these suspensions by 18 months. This includes restoration of Medi-Cal benefits (optical, audiology, podiatry, speech therapy, and incontinence creams and washes), extension of Medi-Cal eligibility from 60 days to one year for post-partum women diagnosed with a mental health disorder, expansion of Medi-Cal screening for the overuse of opioids and illicit drugs, and Prop 56 supplemental payments to providers.

Funding for CalAIM (recently renamed to Medi-Cal Healthier California for All Initiative): The Governor’s proposal includes $695 million ($348 million General Fund) for CalAIM effective January 1, 2021 and ongoing. Despite the name change, the administration continues to advance policy changes released in October’s proposal. The proposal still terminates the Health Homes Program (HHP) despite loss of enhanced federal match rate and the Whole Person Care (WPC) program, and includes $225 million to implement the new statewide enhanced care management benefit through plans. Plans will have the option of providing housing transition services, currently provided under HHP and WPC, and other services In Lieu of Service. The Dental Transformation Initiative will end December 2020, but $112.5 million is proposed to continue and expand program elements including provider incentives for preventive services (expanded to adults); provider incentive payments for continuity of care (expanded to adults); caries risk assessment, and adding silver diamine fluoride as a covered service for children.

Termination of Dental Managed Care in Medi-Cal: The administration proposes transitioning Medi-Cal dental services from a managed care delivery system, currently mandatory in Sacramento and optional in Los Angeles, to a fee-for-service (FFS) system in January 2021. A net zero fiscal impact is estimated due to small administrative savings offset by higher dental utilization in FFS system. However, any transition will have to ensure existing consumer protections for enrollees in dental managed care, including network adequacy requirements, continuity of care protections, and a strong grievance and appeal process.

Medi-Cal Medication Assisted Treatment Benefit Changes: The administration proposes adding all FDA approved drugs (specifically buprenorphine and buprenorphine-naloxone combination) to treat opioid addiction as a Medi-Cal benefit. Currently, only methadone and naltrexone is covered for Medi-Cal enrollees needing Medication Assisted Treatment; adding two new drugs is estimated to cost $876,000.

Prescription Drug Cost Containment: The Governor proposes to continue last year’s Executive Order to carve-out the Medi-Cal managed care benefit from managed care to fee-for-service effective January 1, 2021 to include savings that are partially offset by creation of a new supplemental payment pool for non-hospital clinics for 340B pharmacy services. The Governor also proposes to establish the state’s own generic drug label to manufacture certain generic drugs, establish a single market for drug pricing within the state to combine purchasing power, and expand authority to negotiate with manufacturers internationally for Medi-Cal supplemental rebates.

Potential Public Option: With more details to come, the Health and Human Services Agency will develop options to strengthen enrollment, affordability, and choice through Covered California, including leveraging the network of existing public Medi-Cal managed care plans.

Office of Health Care Affordability: The administration proposes the establishment of the Office of Health Care Affordability in spring 2020 to increase price and quality transparency, and to reduce costs to generate savings to directly-impacted consumers.

Hearing Aids for Children: The budget proposes to create a state program to assist families with the cost of hearing aids and related services for children without health insurance coverage for households with incomes up to 600% FPL.

Behavioral Health: The administration proposes to establish the Behavioral Health Task Force Agency and strengthen enforcement of behavioral health parity laws. The Department of Managed Health Care’s enforcement will focus on timely access to treatment, network adequacy, benefit design and plan policies. The administration also supports updating the Mental Health Services Act to focus on people with mental illness experiencing homelessness, those involved in the criminal justice system, and for early youth intervention.