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«Contents EXECUTIVE SUMMARY I. INTRODUCTION II. HOUSING: What is the need? A. SCOPE OF NEED Demographics of the Homeless Population Shelter for ...»

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H O M E S:

A Policy Maker’s

Toolbox for



August 2015

Building H O M E S

A Policy Maker’s Toolbox for Ending Homelessness




II. HOUSING: What is the need?


Demographics of the Homeless Population

Shelter for Homeless People

Health and Human Service Needs of Homeless People

Housing First Approach

Costs of Homelessness

Current Housing Market


Operational Structures

Physical Structures

Interim Measures


Number of Units Needed

Estimated Costs of Development

Local Financing Required


Homelessness Assistance

Housing Navigator Program

Expansion of Services through Medi-Cal Funding

Income Support

III. OPTIONS: What can be done?


Federal Funding Resources

State Funding Resources

Local Funding Resources

Private Funding Resources

Page i Building H O M E S A Policy Maker’s Toolbox for Ending Homelessness Public/Private Partnerships


Impact Fees

Rental Assistance Preference

Project Based Vouchers

Development Assistance Homeless Incentives

Use of Public Facilities

Tenant Protection Measures


Zoning Densities

Use of Publicly Owned Land

Development Readiness Measures

Surplus Land


Density Bonus

Housing Overlays

IV. MEASUREMENTS: What is the goal?



Housing Objective

Income Objectives

Health Objectives


V. ENGAGEMENT: Who can help?


County / City Collaborative Lead Role

Broad Collaborative Efforts


Neighborhood Relations

Community Outreach and Education

VI. STRATEGIC ACTION: What is the plan?


Land Use Policy and Regulatory Alternatives

Page ii Building H O M E S A Policy Maker’s Toolbox for Ending Homelessness Homelessness Assistance and Prevention Policies


Housing Trust Fund

New Revenue Sources

Investment Policies


Countywide Housing Summits

Housing Leadership Group

Inter-jurisdictional Housing Working Group

Regional Housing Coordinator

Coordination with Other Public Agencies

Legislative Advocacy


Community Engagement Campaign

Call to Action


Appendix A: Bibliography

Appendix B: 2015 Sonoma Homeless Count by Jurisdiction

Appendix C: Costs of Homelessness

Appendix D: Alternative Housing Types

Appendix E: Housing Development Budgets

Appendix F: Permanent Supportive Housing Inventory

Appendix G: Current Funding for Homeless Services

Appendix H: Local Financing for Affordable Housing

Appendix I: Sonoma County’s Affordable Housing Inventory

Appendix J: Post Redevelopment Residual and Asset Receipts

Appendix K: Financing Strategy Examples: Bond Issuance vs. “Pay-As-You-Go”............... 88 Appendix L: Geographic Distribution of Needed Affordable Housing


A) Cost Savings from Housing and Supportive Services

B) Using Medi-Cal Funding for Homeless Services

C) Pay for Success / Social Impact Bonds

D) Vacation Rental Impacts

–  –  –

Local innovation informed by national best practices can create the path to end homelessness by providing safe, secure housing coupled with essential services. With focused vision, clearly articulated goals, and determined commitment, Sonoma County can achieve success and enhance the quality of life for all residents.

This report, or “Toolbox”, describes a series of alternatives that can be used to create the number and types of housing units needed to eliminate homelessness. Many of the tools discussed can also help to address the growing need for more “workforce” housing.

The Toolbox is organized around five basic questions:

–  –  –

HOUSING: What are the needs?


The discussion about strategies to end homelessness must be based on an understanding of the nature of homelessness and the realities of the current housing market in Sonoma County.

The 2015 Homeless Count (Applied Survey Research) identified 3,107 people who were homeless on a single night. An estimated 5,574 people – more than 1% of the County’s population - experience homelessness annually. This is three times the national rate of homelessness.

The homeless population is comprised of distinct subpopulations, which require different housing solutions. The demographic profile of Sonoma County’s homeless population is as


–  –  –

1 HUD defines “chronically homeless” as a person who is disabled and homeless continuously for one year or more, or homeless on four or more occasions over the past three years.

–  –  –

Experience has proven that emergency shelters are not the optimal path for helping people to escape homelessness. However, despite its shortcomings, shelter capacity will need to be expanded if the supply of housing that is available, affordable, and coupled with supportive services as needed, is not in ready supply.

Housing First Approach Access to permanent housing is all that some people need to escape homelessness. Others have needs beyond housing, and will need supportive services to be successful in housing.

“Housing First” is a proven strategy for ending all types of homelessness and has been demonstrated to be the most effective overall approach to ending chronic homelessness.

Housing First offers people immediate access to permanent housing and provides any needed services after they are in a safe and stable living environment. The Housing First model yields higher success in treatment outcomes, higher housing retention rates, lower returns to homelessness, and significant reductions in the use of crisis services, hospitals, jails, and other institutions. (National Alliance to End Homelessness)

–  –  –

2 Sonoma County sources in the chart above include Sonoma County Continuum of Care (Permanent Supportive Housing costs, 2014);


Health Care for the Homeless Collaborative, “What we know about the costs of chronic intoxication in Sonoma County” (residential treatment & detox costs, 2014); Sonoma County Sheriff Dept (Jail per day cost, 2015); Catholic Charities Nightingale Project reports (Hospital Avoidable Days cost., 2014-15).

Page ES-3 Building H O M E S A Policy Maker’s Toolbox for Ending Homelessness Current Housing Market Sonoma County’s real estate market is experiencing rapidly escalating rents and vacancy rates as low as 1.5% (REIS, Inc., 2015). These conditions are exposing more lower-income households to the risk of becoming homeless, and pushing out working families, as well.

 Rents have increased over 30% the since 2012 and average almost $1,600 per month (Press Democrat, 2014);

 A majority of renters earning less than 50% of area median income pay more than half their income for rent; the accepted affordability standard is 30% or less of household income (Center for Neighborhood Technology, 2014);

 Even households that receive rental assistance are having difficulty finding units they can afford to rent, in large part due to regulatory cost limits (So. Co. Housing Authority).


To end homelessness, Sonoma County communities would have to create an estimated 2,200 affordable housing units, distributed appropriately throughout all areas of the County.

Operational Structures Housing for people who are homeless can be categorized by types of operational and physical structures. The operational structure of housing can vary by the type of ownership, tenure, and management approach used to ensure that each household receives the range of financial, health, and human services needed to succeed. This Toolbox reviews several operational

approaches, including:

–  –  –

Physical Structures The physical structure of housing will also vary based on the needs of the intended occupants.

The majority of homeless people in Sonoma County are single adults, so homeless-specific housing will be predominantly very small units. This Toolbox reviews housing types that might be used, in two categories – portable vs. permanent homes.

Portable units include:

–  –  –

The estimated 2,200 housing units needed to address homelessness in Sonoma County will be created using a variety of strategies, including new construction, adaptive reuse of vacant or underutilized properties, rehabilitation of substandard housing units, set-asides in affordable housing developments, and rental assistance in market-rate units. About 200 of the needed units can be created with rental assistance in existing housing. This Toolbox focuses primarily on the remaining 2,000 units that require construction or rehabilitation.

Interim Measures This Toolbox focuses on permanent housing, and thus does not fully explore the interim measures that can reduce the suffering of persons experiencing homelessness and provide a more stable place from which they could be connected to housing and services. These might


 Camping and Safe Parking Areas with Restrooms  Tents, Yurts, Conestoga Huts, Tiny Homes, Cars, Camper Shell Trucks, Small RVs


This Toolbox assumes that 2,000 of the 2,200 needed units will involve new construction or substantial renovation of existing structures. The estimated per unit costs to develop homeless-specific housing averages $160,000 per unit, of which an estimated $55,000 per unit would be required from local sources - an investment of $110 million over ten years.


Some people exiting homelessness have needs that create obstacles to living inside. Access to supportive services is critically important to help them end chronic or repetitive homeless episodes. An effective housing program for people who are homeless must assure both

housing and supportive services, including:

 Services for people with disabilities  Life skills training and intensive case management  Housing locator services to assist in the search for housing  Direct access to health care, including mental health and substance abuse services  Assistance accessing employment opportunities, disability income, and other supplemental resources

–  –  –

OPTIONS: What can be done?


The goal of ending homelessness cannot be achieved with the existing level of resources.

However, there are opportunities – public policy choices that can be made, and other steps that can be taken – that can make housing for homeless people a reality.

This Toolbox reviews the federal, state, and local funding streams that have historically been available for development of affordable housing, and explores new funding options that might

be used to create the needed housing. Potential new funding options include:

–  –  –


The Toolbox also examines policy, land use, and regulatory incentive options that could reduce costs and increase the effectiveness of available resources. This would effectively reduce the amount of local financing required to create the needed housing, and help to optimize use of the limited amount of developable land in the County.

Policy options include:

 Impact fees based on unit size  Rental assistance preferences for homeless people  Project Based Vouchers for new homeless-dedicated housing units  Development assistance incentive for homeless-dedicated units  Use of Public Facilities

Land use options include:

 Increased zoning densities  Use of public land for housing development  Development readiness measures  Disposition of surplus land

Regulatory incentive options include:

 Greater density bonuses for small units  Housing overlay zoning on commercial and industrial land

–  –  –

MEASUREMENTS: What is the goal?

As the number of units increases, the primary indicator of success for this effort will be to reduce the number of persons experiencing homelessness to zero. The proposed objectives to support this goal will focus on Housing, Income, and Health as identified in the Continuum of Care’s 10-Year Homeless Action Plan 2014 Update.

 Increase the percentage of participants retaining housing for at least 12 months to 100% by 2025.

 Increase the percentage of participants with employment income to 50% by 2025.

 Increase the percentage of participants with income from other sources to 80% by 2025.

 100% of adults receiving homeless services should have health coverage by 2020.

 96% of people entering homeless services will exit with a source of primary care by 2020.

ENGAGEMENT: Who can help?

Collaborative Action Ending homelessness in Sonoma County will require collaboration amongst all local jurisdictions, housing developers, funders, community service providers, faith-based organizations, businesses, labor organizations, schools, health care systems, and the community at large. County and city leadership will be vital in developing the required consensus for action.

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