Mosquera Bill to Make Info about Homeless Prevention Programs & Services Available Online Clears Assembly Panel

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrat Gabriela Mosquera to make information about homeless prevention programs and services available online was approved Monday by an Assembly panel.

The bill (A-448) would require the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to prepare and make available on the department’s website, in an easily printable format, information on all municipal, county, state and federal homeless prevention programs and services available to a homeless person or to a person who is at imminent risk of homelessness and who is not eligible for, or does not qualify to receive, municipal, county, state, or federal social or public assistance services.

Finding help is not always easy, especially when you have more pressing concerns, like where you will be spending the night. We should make it as simple as possible for those who are homeless to get the help they need to get back on their feet.

The bill would require that the information include, but not be limited to, a list, by county, of: grant programs and homeless intervention programs supplying grants and providing referral assistance services to homeless veterans, homeless persons, and persons at imminent risk of homelessness, as applicable; homeless services provided by the Departments of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA), Children and Families (DCF), Human Services (DHS), and Health (DOH); and other municipal, county, state, or federal housing and homeless prevention programs that provide supportive services to homeless persons or those at imminent risk of homelessness.

The DCA, pursuant to the bill, is to require each county and municipal welfare agency, Division of Child Protection and Permanency local office, veterans service office, emergency shelter for the homeless, health care facility, state psychiatric hospital, crisis intervention unit, screening service, library, and community-based outreach program and nonprofit organizations providing housing and homeless prevention services in the state to post the information specified in the bill in a conspicuous public place in the agency, office shelter, facility, hospital, unit, screening service, library, or place where housing and homeless prevention services are provided.

The bill would also mandate that the entities provide the information, at no cost, to homeless persons or persons at imminent risk of homelessness who are not eligible for, or do not qualify to receive, municipal, county, state or federal social or public assistance services.

The bill would require that DCA ensure, in consultation with DCF, DHS, DOH and DMVA, that: the information posted on the DCA website be available on each department’s website, and be updated as necessary; and a link to the information be posted to the Internet website of every county and municipal welfare agency, DCPP local office, and veterans service offices in the state.

As used in the bill, “homeless person” means a teen, a young adult, a veteran, an unemployed or underemployed person, a person with mental illness, or a person with developmental disabilities who is living outside, or in a building not meant for human habitation or which the person has no legal right to occupy, or in an emergency shelter, or in a temporary housing program which may include a transitional and supportive housing program if habitation time limits exist, or temporarily in the home of another household, or in a motel.

Under the bill, DCA, in consultation with DCF, DHS, DOH and DMVA, would be permitted to adopt rules and regulations to effectuate the bill’s purposes.

The bill was released by the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee.