2018 California Policy Priorities

CSH 2018 California Policy Priorities

CSH is continuing to lead the way on efforts to improve State homelessness response and supportive housing policies in California. Our priorities for the 2018 State Legislature are based on our commitment to ensure new resources to address homelessness have the greatest impact. As such, we are strongly supporting and urging State lawmakers to adopt:

  1. AB 2162 (Chiu & Daly): Streamline development of supportive housing. Finding sites where supportive housing can be feasibly developed is challenging, particularly in jurisdictions that can deny or delay approval of projects based on Not-in-My-Backyard pushback or city councilmembers reticent to address the needs of homeless residents. Assembly Bill 2162 would create a by right, expedited process for approving building applications for supportive housing, reducing costs and time it takes to site supportive housing for our most vulnerable, and sometimes hardest-to-serve, populations.
    Read our Fact Sheet on AB 2162
    Download a sample support letter


  1. Budget Item for SB 2, Year 1 Funding: Foster sustainable investment in rental assistance and operating subsidies for chronically homeless Californians. In September 2017, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 2 (Atkins), which creates a document recording fee on all real-estate transactions, except sales, as a permanent source of funding for affordable housing in California. Under the legislation, proceeds from the fees collected in 2019 and beyond will largely go directly to cities and counties for a range of allowable uses. However, HCD will allocate half of all fees collected in 2018, estimated to total $125 million, to address homelessness. CSH is joining the co-sponsors of SB 2 to advocate for this one-time investment create a sustainable grant to jurisdictions agreeing to invest in these programs through ongoing local SB 2 allocations. Grant funding would spur or boost flexible housing pools, create more supportive housing projects, and move chronically homeless Californians into housing as quickly as possible. Placing this program within the recently-created Housing for a Healthy California Program would allow a rigorous evaluation that would track changes in Medi-Cal costs from moving chronically homeless people to housing stability.
    Comments on the bill.


  1. SB 918 (Wiener): Fund programs to end youth homelessness. Homelessness among youth is increasing at alarming rates in California. Yet, more than half of our counties have any systems or programs in place to address the unique needs of this population. Senate Bill 918 would create a new grant to fund programs offering an array of interventions for homeless youth, using State General Funds and revenues from a new marijuana tax. It would also create a new Office of Homeless Youth, to align homeless youth programs with mainstream systems and housing programs the State already administers.
    Read our fact sheet on SB 918
    Download a sample letter of support


  1. SB 1010 (Beall): Create sustainable funding for community-based treatment and services, including housing, for vulnerable parolees. Homeless parolees are seven times more likely to recidivate than housed parolees. Decades of research shows supportive housing is far more effective than group, transitional, or sober living housing, yet our corrections systems relies on the latter models for all parolees. Using existing resources, SB 1010 (Beall) would create a pilot providing supportive housing to parolees to address the needs of homeless parolees and document reduced recidivism. The pilot would test outcomes and barriers from moving parolees from mental health treatment funded wholly by the State, to a community-based mental health treatment approach, where parolees would receive mental health treatment from the county in which they will be living beyond the term of parole. With savings realized from 50-90% federal reimbursement for mental health treatment, the State could fund housing with services for the term of parole, and partner with counties to ensure parolees are able to continue to recover, after parole ends, in stable housing.
    Read our Fact Sheet.



Housing for Families & Veterans Underway in San Diego

Vista del Puente Apartments recently broke ground in San Diego, CA. Developed by Townspeople together with National Community Renaissance, Vista del Puente is a three-story, community composed of 52 apartments that will feature one, two and three-bedroom units. Twenty-six of the units will be designated for homeless Veteran households, 12 for homeless families and 13 traditional affordable units will also be provided for individuals and families.

CSH provided a $500,000 acquisition loan so that the developers could purchase the property. This type of capital is often necessary to get a project off the ground and we are thrilled to see this milestone happen!

Vista del Puente will feature an expansive community room, secured entry, tot lot, barbeque area and laundry room. The 2,500 square-feet of community space will be designated for onsite case management and social services that will include: mental health services, substance abuse recovery, job training and job placement assistance to the Veteran population. Counseling and service programs will be tailored to meet the specific needs of the residents.

Progress Report: Work Well Initiative

Through what is known as the Work Well Initiative, CSH collaborates with the San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP) to increase employment opportunities for vulnerable individuals with lived experience of mental illness in San Diego County, CA. As the local Workforce Development Board, SDWP is integral to this work, particularly when it comes to engaging the business sector. SDWP helps empower job seekers to meet the current and future workforce needs of employers in San Diego by funding job training programs, providing targeted employment services,  and collecting regional data on workforce trends, in-demand occupations, and high-growth industries.

SD WorforceIn addition to our work with SDWP to increase employment opportunities for vulnerable people,  CSH has created a speaker ‘s bureau addressing mental health, stigma and employment. As part of Work Well , we also completed a Supported Employment Fidelity Review Report of the Mental Health Systems Employment Solutions Program (at the request of the County of San Diego Behavioral Health Services Division).

CSH’s employment work has been at the core of our efforts in San Diego County since 2014. CSH also partnered with SDWP to write a strategic employment plan for individuals in San Diego living with serious mental illness. This work, funded by the County of San Diego, Behavioral Health Services through the California Mental Health Services Act , will continue through 2019.

The five-year Behavioral Health Strategic Employment Plan was developed through an extensive stakeholder process that included input from clients, service providers, employment specialists, and mental health organizations focused on evidence-based models and innovative techniques that support complete and full recovery. The focus centers on an array of supported employment opportunities as a key component to mental health recovery.

The six goals of the Plan are: 1) Increase opportunities for employment, income, length of employment and job  retention  for people with the lived experience of mental illness; 2) Increase awareness of mental illness and related stigma within the workplace and community ; 3) Increase and enhance relationships with employers, businesses, and the entrepreneurial sector; 4) Identify and increase funding opportunities for employment, business, social enterprise-related initiatives and program s for people with lived experience of mental illness; 5) Streamline navigation systems for people with mental illness regarding employment and supportive services; and 6) Improve data collection, analysis and reporting capacity of service providers regarding increased employment for people with lived experience of mental illness.

CSH is helping to guide the implementation of the Plan by offering technical consulting services, trainings, employer socials, presentations on mental health and stigma, annual focus groups to remain in close contact with the clients who are working to find jobs and the employment specialists who are working diligently to assist them, and by promoting employment resource directories and funding announcements.

San Diego Square Opens

San D Sq2

Having recently moved back into her newly renovated unit at San Diego Square, Isara Garrett said she had only one word for the officials who have helped keep her downtown home affordable.

“That word is grateful,” said Garrett, 71. “I am so grateful for my brand-new apartment. My little dog Snoopy and I love living here.”

Garrett and 153 other seniors were displaced for about three weeks while top-to-bottom renovations were made to the 37-year-old San Diego Square building. She was among the guests at a ceremonial ribbon-cutting Monday to reopen the building.

before after

Besides having newly painted units and other amenities, residents of San Diego Square have the peace of mind that they may never have to move out because of a rent increase. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development also has recently extended by 20 years its rental assistance program that has provided vouchers for San Diego Square residents since the building opened in 1979.

There soon will be about 500 affordable units within a block of San Diego Square. Those include 72 at the Hotel Churchill, 25 of which will be units of supportive housing through the Mental Health Services Act Housing (MHSA) program as well as supportive housing for veterans, and 250 at Celadon at 9th and Broadway, including 25 supportive housing units through MHSA and an additional 63 units of supportive housing with PACE services. CSH has been a partner in all three developments

At San Diego Square, 122 units are reserved for people at least 62 years old with annual incomes of about $40,800 for a two-person household, or 60 percent or less than the area’s median income.

Thirty-two units are reserved for seniors whose income is $34,000 a year, or 50 percent or less than the area median income.

San Diego CSH Team Co-Hosts a Health-Focused Charrette in Riverside, California

SD charretteA strong cast of CSH staff representing the San Diego office, the Western Region and the Consulting and Training teams came together February 23rd and 24th in Riverside County, California to host a community charrette for the Health Center Partners of Southern California (formerly the Council of Community Clinics).  The purpose of the charrette was to jumpstart the Health Center Partners (HCP) strategic planning process, in order to better understand the health and social service needs in Riverside County.  The two days, one held in Palm Springs and one held in Riverside, focused on health centers and other service providers in the region and addressed the issues of primary care, behavioral health care, and substance use treatment needs, with a particular emphasis on the vulnerable populations of seniors, those experiencing homelessness, and migrant farmworkers.  The information gathered from the charrettes will inform HCP’s expansion of its scope to more effectively provide health centers in Riverside County with the programs, services, and community-partner linkages needed to provide coordinated, high quality care for their patients

The CSH planning and implementation team included Tom Stubberud, San Diego and Heather Lyons, Portland, as co-leaders of the Charrette. They received extensive support, which was provided by Nui Bezaire, Los Angeles; Kim Keaton, Kansas City; and Simonne Ruff, San Diego.  The team also included Lauryn Berner of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council (NHCHC) in Nashville.  NHCHC is CSH’s partner in the HRSA National Cooperative Agreement.  Several other CHS staff served as experts in the charrette fishbowls, including Sharon Rapport and Susan Lee of Los Angeles, and Cheryl Winter of Washington, D.C.SD charrette 2

The report-out presentation, held on March 1, 2016, included strong recommendations for Health Center Partners to continue this important work by; leading collaborative planning efforts in the Riverside region, supporting data and technology needs of the community health centers, championing efforts to advocate for and take advantage of state level health work, and advancing health professional capacity and career pathways, all in order to expand their footprint in Riverside to better serve their health center members.

The recommendations presentation to the HCP board of directors at their monthly board meeting was given by Tom Stubberud and Simonne Ruff was well received.  During the question/comment period, one of the board members, Lori Holeman of Community Health Systems, Inc., an expert at the day 2 fishbowl summed it up succinctly by stating, “I think you nailed it”.   We would agree!  We were appreciative of the openness to allow us to facilitate this important health-focused charrette and we believe that this will be an important stepping stone in maintaining their newfound momentum with health centers and other key stakeholders in Riverside County.

Work Well – Strategic Employment Initiative

Since early 2014,  CSH has been working in close collaboration with the San Diego Workforce Partnership and the County of San Diego Behavioral Health Services on the Work Well Initiative.  This five year Mental Health Services Act-funded initiative has the goal of increasing employment for individuals with lived experience of serious mental illness as its core tenet.  Toward that end, the project created the San Diego Behavioral Health Five-Year Strategic Employment Plan.

The plan promotes three key models for increasing employment in San Diego County:


As part of our overall strategies, we will continue to provide technical consulting services, conduct trainings, promote employment resource directories and funding announcements, offer employer socials, provide presentations on mental health and stigma and hold annual focus groups, to remain in close contact with the clients who are working to find jobs and the employment specialists and others who are working diligently to assist them.

For more information about the Work Well Initiative, please contact Tom Stubberud at 619-232-3194 ext. 4286.

Alegre – Orange County’s Newest Supportive Housing Project

Alegre Apartments – Orange County’s newest integrated supportive housing project – will provide 104 apartment homes in the Cyprus Village subdivision in the City of Irvine.  All of the apartments will be affordable to households earning between 30% and 50% of the Orange County Area Median Income.   The developer, AMCAL, is partnering with Lifesteps, Families Forward and the County of Orange to provide complementary social services for children, adults and special needs residents.  Alegre has been designed as a LEED Gold building with the associated cost efficiency, energy savings and sustainability features.  Some of the project amenities include:  elevator access, spacious floorplans, swimming pool with a kid’s water splash feature, barbeque and playground area, computer lab, media room, game room, and a fitness center.  Alegre Poster FINAL (1)

Alegre Apartments also recently won the Kennedy Commission Project of the Year Award for its commitment to quality housing for those in our community with the most need. CSH has been assisting the County of Orange in the development of housing projects serving low and extremely low income tenants who suffer from mental illness and who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.   This newest project, Alegre Apartments is currently completing its initial lease up.

San Diego County MHSA Housing – Award Winning, Quality Supportive Housing

The Mental Health Services ACT (MHSA) Housing Program embodies both the individual and system goals of the MHSA through a unique collaboration among California government agencies at the state and local level.  Managed through San Diego County, the California Housing Agency (CalHFA) was allocated $33 million for a new housing program under which MHSA funds have been made available to finance the costs associated with development, acquisition, construction, and/or rehabilitation of permanent supportive housing for individuals with mental illness and their families.

In 2009, San Diego County Behavioral Health Services (BHS), working in tandem with CSH projected the $33 million could create 241 units of MHSA housing in the San Diego region.

As of this writing, there are currently 12 developments operating in the San Diego region which contain 185 MHSA Housing Program units which have been recognized as high quality projects and have won local, national and international awards, including the ULI International Award for Excellence.

Additionally, three projects are currently under construction which will offer an additional 56 MHSA Housing Program units…totaling exactly 241 units!


San Diego County BHS and CSH are reviewing potential projects which may be eligible for funding, utilizing the remaining MHSA Housing Program Funds.


Stay tuned for future San Diego MHSA Housing “Pipeline” developments!

HOPE (Homeless Outreach Programs for Entitlement) San Diego Expands Access to Benefits

Father Joe’s Villages and CSH along with Kris Kuntz of LeSar Development are leading San Diego’s efforts to implement a national best practice model focused on increasing access to SSI/SSDI for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are disability income benefits administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that generally also provide either Medicaid and/or Medicare health insurance to individuals who are eligible. Accessing these benefits is often a critical first step in recovery. For people, who are homeless with disabling health conditions or who are returning to the community from institutions (jails, prisons or hospitals), access to these programs can be extremely challenging. The application process for SSI/SSDI is complicated, detailed, and often difficult to navigate. Typically, about 10-15 percent of individuals who are homeless have these benefits.

Staff who are trained in the HOPE San Diego approach use highly effective techniques so that people who are homeless and disabled can quickly access income and healthcare. In order to reach the largest number of homeless individuals with disabling health conditions, Father Joe’s and CSH provide responsive and sophisticated technical assistance to 35 plus community and government partners, enabling them to learn and implement these specific methods.

To be alerted of future trainings, please call Simonne Ruff at 619-232-3194 ext. 4292 to add your contact information to our HOPE San Diego email list.

USICH Staff Tours San Diego Projects with CSH

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThis past Wednesday and Thursday, our CSH Team in San Diego CA hosted Beverley Ebersold, Director of National Initiatives, and Amy Sawyer, Regional Coordinator, both from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH). They joined CSH Senior Program Manager Rich Penksa and Dr. Piedad Garcia, Assistant Deputy Director, County of San Diego, Department of Mental Health, and others for site tours and meetings in and around America’s Finest City (the nickname for San Diego).

Focusing on supportive housing and the services offered to residents, Ms. Ebersold and Ms. Sawyer were able to see first-hand how CSH and our partners are working in San Diego to help vulnerable people find stable homes and better lives.

CSH is proud to count USICH as one of our most valued federal partners. We always welcome the opportunity to share information and learn from their knowledgeable staff.

Below is the itinerary and links to the sites and organizations our colleagues from USICH visited while in San Diego.

August 5

Site Visit – The Mason- with Dr. Piedad Garcia, Assistant Deputy Director, County of San Diego, Department of Mental Health. http://housingmatterssd.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/SDMH-FactSheet-Mason-1.pdf

Site Visit – Cedar Gateway- with Dr. Piedad Garcia, Assistant Deputy Director, County of San Diego, Department of Mental Health. http://housingmatterssd.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/SDMH-FactSheet-CedarGateway.pdf

Meeting – San Diego Housing Commission – with Melissa Peterman, Director Homeless Housing Innovation Department, and Suket Dayal, Director of Strategy for the SDHC. http://www.sdhc.org/Special-Housing-Programs.aspx?id=7616

Meeting -25 Cities San Diego – with representatives Tom Theisan and Jessielee Cooley. http://endingsdhomelessness.org/2014/04/22/the-25-cities-initiative-is-launching-in-san-diego/

August 6

Meeting – San Diego City Administration Building – with Jessica Lawrence, staff to Councilmember Todd Gloria, Chair of Regional Continuum of Care Council. http://www.sandiegococ.org/

Meeting – Behavioral Health Services Housing Council. http://sandiego.camhsa.org/planning.aspx

Meeting – Community Research Foundation- with ACT Team Clinical Director Troy Boyle. http://www.comresearch.org/