City Council Considers Fund Allocation to End Homelessness

A homeless man uses a bus stop in Marina Village in this 2019 photograph. The city hopes to use the $285,767 in proposed funds from Alameda County to help the homeless community in Alameda. The city will use the funds to help find permanent housing for the homeless and help those on the verge of homelessness pay living expenses.
City of Alameda

City Council Considers Fund Allocation to End Homelessness

City Council discussed a proposal for allocating funds from a potential grant created to pursue the state’s goal of ending homelessness at its June 15 meeting.

The City of Alameda is in line to receive $285,767 from round two of California’s Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention (HHAP- 2) grant program. The state will be allocating $300 million HHAP-2. The grant program is designed to develop a unified response among local jurisdictions to reduce and end homelessness. The funds will be allocated to 44 continuums of care, the 13 most populous cities in the state and 58 counties. A continuum of care is a regional or local planning body that coordinates housing and services funding for homeless families and individuals.

Alameda County is scheduled to receive $4,002,153 from HHAP- 2. Grant amounts to counties are based on the county’s proportionate share of the state’s homeless population.

Alameda County officials notified Alameda city staff in May of their plan to give $285,767 from the grant to the city. The County indicated that the amount is a preliminary number based on information from the state. The County requested the city submit a plan for the funds to prepare for the contract to award the funding.

HHAP-2 funds must be spent on the best practices to help move unhoused individuals and families into permanent housing. According to California Homeless Coordinating and Financial Council’s (HCFC) HHAP-2 report, eligible uses for the funds include rapid rehousing, including rental subsidies and incentives to landlords; operating subsidies in new and existing affordable or supportive housing units and emergency shelters; street outreach to assist persons experiencing homelessness, and services coordination, which may include access to workforce, education and training programs.

Other eligible uses include systems support for activities necessary to create regional partnerships; delivery of permanent housing; prevention and shelter diversion including crisis resolution, mediation and conflict resolution; and new navigation centers and emergency shelters.

According to the city memorandums, staff is proposing the Council designate $125,000 to provide an overnight shelter, $75,000 to augment existing street outreach with mental health services and $85,767 for flexible funds.

The $125,000 expenditure for an overnight shelter would allow up to 10 people to have nightly shelter at the Alameda Day Center. This would allow the city to house a small number of homeless people until community cabins or other shelters are available.

The $75,000 expenditure on street outreach would cover street-based case management with mental health support. These funds would be targeted to the unhoused that have moderate to extreme mental health needs.

Lastly, the dispersal of $85,767 for flexible funds would cover a wide range of purposes including car repairs, paying back rent and utilities for the previously homeless or people on the verge of homelessness.

It would also cover emergency expenses, such as car repairs for people living in vehicles, emergency motel stays and working with the unhoused to clear their credit.

City staff recommended that the proposed $75,000 for mental health be distributed to the other two categories if the Council deems the previously announced Mental Health Response Pilot Program (“City Creating Emergency Response Pilot Program” May 25) is sufficient to handle mental health needs for the unhoused community. The pilot program will end police officer response to non-criminal, mental health-related 911 calls and establish new procedures. The city will be spending $1 million a year to implement the program.

If tCouncil deems it is sufficient, staff recommends assigning an extra $67,767 for nightly shelters and an additional $14,233 for flexible funds. Council will either approve city staff’s plan or provide staff with a new direction for allocation of the HHAP-2 funds.

HHAP-2 grant program was a part of Assembly Bill (AB) 83, which Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law on June 29, 2020. A year prior, HHAP-1 was created as a section of AB 101, which Newsom signed on July 31, 2019.

HHAP-1 allocated $650 million as a five-year block grant to the same jurisdictions awarded in HHAP-2. The city of Alameda was not given any HHAP-1 funds.

In 2017, the HCFC was created by the state to oversee the implementation of “Housing First” policies, guidelines, and regulations to reduce the prevalence and duration of homelessness in California. The Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency is responsible for the distribution of more than $1.5 billion in homelessness grants on HCFC’s behalf.