News

Monday, September 30, 2019

Assembly Bill 133 can help keep seniors in their homes

Prior to the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, it was not uncommon for seniors on fixed incomes who had already paid off their mortgages to nonetheless lose their homes because they couldn’t afford to pay their property taxes. While Proposition 13 continues to protect millions of older Californians by providing reasonable and predictable property tax liability, for low-income seniors it may not be enough. Voter approved local bonds and parcel taxes that are added to property tax bills above and beyond Proposition 13’s one percent cap have typically added hundreds of dollars a year to individual property tax bills across the state. One of the state programs meant to help seniors over age 65, the blind, and the disabled stay in their homes is the Property Tax Postponement program or PTP.

The concept behind the Tax Postponement program is simple. A lien is placed against the home of an eligible individual and all property taxes are deferred. Later, when the homeowner moves, the taxes are paid out of the sale of the home plus simple interest. The program worked perfectly for 40 years. Beyond paying for itself, 6,000 homeowners from across California benefit from the Property Tax Postponement program. The large majority have been in the program for decades, and hundreds are over 90 years old. Fortunately, after the Property Tax Postponement program was suspended in 2009 due to budget cuts, it was reinstituted in 2016. But even though the program was resurrected, very few seniors are eligible for the program.

In order to help more low-income seniors, Assembly Bill 133, introduced by Asm. Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton, was proposed to increase the income threshold from $35,500 to $45,000. This figure would then be adjusted annually by an inflation factor. AB133 also lowers the interest rate from seven percent to five percent, meaning government doesn’t get a windfall when the property is finally sold. These changes are important because every penny counts for low-income seniors. AB133 provides peace of mind for homeowners worried about a large property tax bill.

To Learn more about AB 133 you can read at the following site.

Friday, September 27, 2019

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signs bills to speed homeless shelters

SACRAMENTO — California is giving cities and counties more power to speed up the building of supportive housing and shelters amid a homelessness crisis.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed 13 laws aimed at stemming the crisis Thursday. His action comes as Republican President Donald Trump criticizes California's handling of the issue, most recently blaming homelessness for water pollution .

California, the nation's most populous state, has a growing number of people living in the streets in cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco. But Newsom has accused Trump of politicizing the issue and called on the federal government to provide more aid to get people into housing.

Newsom said the bills he's signed will "give local governments even more tools to confront this crisis."

One new law that takes effect immediately lets Los Angeles bypass parts of the California Environmental Quality Act to build supportive housing and shelters. Another lets projects that will turn hotels into housing forego certain CEQA reviews through 2025.

Another adds Orange and Alameda counties as well as San Jose to the list of places that can declare emergencies and build shelters on publicly owned land. It builds on a 2017 law that lets Berkeley, Emeryville, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, Santa Clara and San Francisco declare such crisis.

"I am optimistic that we will continue to work together to bring solutions to our homelessness crisis," said Democratic Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, who authored the bill and represents parts of Orange County.

Los Angeles declared a shelter crisis after the 2017 law and set a goal of creating 750 to 1,500 new shelter beds, according to a bill analysis. So far it has opened 109 of those beds and has 170 under construction.

To learn more about this story read here

Thursday, September 26, 2019

California is giving cities and counties more power to speed up the building of supportive housing and shelters amid a homelessness crisis.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed 13 laws aimed at stemming the crisis Thursday. His action comes as Republican President Donald Trump criticizes California's handling of the issue, most recently blaming homelessness for water pollution .

California, the nation's most populous state, has a growing number of people living in the streets in cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco. But Newsom has accused Trump of politicizing the issue and called on the federal government to provide more aid to get people into housing.

Newsom said the bills he's signed will "give local governments even more tools to confront this crisis."

One new law that takes effect immediately lets Los Angeles bypass parts of the California Environmental Quality Act to build supportive housing and shelters. Another lets projects that will turn hotels into housing forego certain CEQA reviews through 2025.

"I am optimistic that we will continue to work together to bring solutions to our homelessness crisis," said Democratic Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, who authored the bill and represents parts of Orange County.

To learn more read here.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

California Governor Signs Bills to Speed Up Homeless Shelter Construction

“I am optimistic that we will continue to work together to bring solutions to our homelessness crisis,” said Democratic Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, who authored the bill and represents parts of Orange County.

SACRAMENTO (AP) — California is giving cities and counties more power to speed up the building of supportive housing and shelters amid a homelessness crisis.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed 13 laws aimed at stemming the crisis Thursday. His action comes as Republican President Donald Trump criticizes California’s handling of the issue, most recently blaming homelessness for water pollution.

California, the nation’s most populous state, has a growing number of people living in the streets in cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco. But Newsom has accused Trump of politicizing the issue and called on the federal government to provide more aid to get people into housing.

Newsom said the bills he’s signed will “give local governments even more tools to confront this crisis.”

One new law that takes effect immediately lets Los Angeles bypass parts of the California Environmental Quality Act to build supportive housing and shelters. Another lets projects that will turn hotels into housing forego certain CEQA reviews through 2025.

To learn more about this incredible story go to the following page.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

 Homeless Shelter Commitments Expand to Three New Cities

Three more cities committed Monday to provide specific amounts of shelter for homeless people and to not enforce anti-camping laws against them unless they’re refusing available beds that are appropriate for their disabilities.

The new federal court settlements by Santa Ana, Laguna Beach and Bellflower expand on a series of settlements reached by 18 cities in Orange County and the county Sheriff’s Department. Bellflower, in Los Angeles County, is the first city outside Orange County to agree to a settlement in the lawsuit, known as Catholic Worker v. County of Orange.

The agreements, which are overseen by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter, require that before enforcing camping and loitering laws, specially-trained health outreach staff must speak with homeless people and determine an appropriate shelter bed based on the person’s disabilities, needs for medical treatment, mental health services and other factors. Only if they refuse an appropriate, available bed can they be cited or arrested for camping or loitering.

“This county has really stepped up in terms of leadership,” Carter told officials and members of the public gathered in his courtroom Monday.

“It’s a really important, critical step to ending the criminalization of poverty in Orange County,” said Brooke Weitzman, one of the lead attorneys representing homeless people in the case, after the court meeting.

Santa Ana committed to adding another shelter with 200 to 250 beds, in addition to an existing 200-bed city shelter known as The Link and a roughly 400-bed county shelter called The Courtyard.

Bellflower committed to opening a temporary shelter by the end of this year with 70 beds, equivalent to the number of homeless people counted in January whose last permanent home was in the city.

And Laguna Beach agreed to maintain at least 43 shelter beds – equivalent to 60 percent of the number of unsheltered people counted in the city during the latest official count in January. The city already has a shelter with 45 beds, so it meets its commitment as long as it continues to operate the shelter.

[Click on a city to read their settlement: Santa Ana, Laguna Beach, Bellflower.]

In return for maintaining shelter and following the health outreach procedures, the cities will have the court’s support to enforce anti-camping laws to clear out encampments. The current court precedent in California, known as the Boise decision, prohibits anti-camping enforcement against homeless people if there’s no available shelter bed.

“I’ll stand in the park with you” when cities enforce their anti-camping laws, Carter told city officials in his courtroom, calling for “strict enforcement.”

“We’re going to clean up your libraries” and beaches, he added. “We’re going to clean up the city [and] do it immediately.”

The three cities that settled Monday were not sued in the case and volunteered to the settlement agreements.

“That litigation cost that we’ve saved alone is enough to build a shelter in every one of these cities,” Carter said.

Turning to Bellflower officials, Carter said, “My expectation is other cities are going to quickly follow your lead” in the Los Angeles area to get their parks and libraries back. The idea is to build shelters and get people who “truly want help” off the street, he said, while people who refuse help will be arrested.

“There’s a lot more [settlements] coming, potentially,” Carter added. “This is just [the] beginning.”

“This settlement provides us with a win-win situation,” said Bellflower Mayor Pro Tem Juan Garza, who also is the incoming president of the Los Angeles County chapter of the League of California Cities.

 Carter said Bellflower officials came to the table as a result of relationships built by former Santa Ana Councilwoman Michele Martinez, who has been helping Carter with the Catholic Worker case.

Also on Monday, Fullerton Mayor Jesus Silva announced his city was working with the nonprofit Illumination Foundation to create housing for 150 homeless people. The effort includes 60 recuperative care beds for people recovering from medical crises, plus 90 “navigational” beds for people transitioning into housing, officials said.

“I think we have the will of the council to do these things,” Silva told the court.

Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, who is married to the Fullerton mayor, said Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office has agreed to allow the Fairview Developmental Center to house, with health care services, 200 people with severe mental illnesses after it closes at the end of this year.

“We have the properties…We need to go after this,” Quirk-Silva said.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Aliso Viejo Slammed For Dumping Homeless In Laguna Beach

ALISO VIEJO, CA — South Orange County cities took notice, Monday, as Laguna Beach was lauded for its work with the homeless, while Aliso Viejo was chastised for "relocating" homeless people to its neighboring town.

Federal judge David O. Carter signed off Monday on settlement agreements for Laguna Beach, Santa Ana and Bellflower on how officials in those cities handle homeless encampments and loitering. U.S. District Judge David O. Carter said his phone "is ringing off the hook" with officials from other cities inquiring about the agreement.

After praising Laguna Beach officials, whose efforts to address homeless issues date back a decade, the judge accused neighboring cities of "dumping" their homeless populations at Laguna Beach's shelter.

Carter said Aliso Viejo in 2017 counted 28 homeless individuals in the city, but only one last year.
"What happened to the other 27 people?" Carter said, adding they all ended up in the Laguna Beach shelter.

Carter predicted more municipalities will likely join the settlements stemming from litigation that originated in Orange County, when county officials moved to clear out homeless encampments in January 2018 along the Santa Ana riverbed.

The agreement represents a "healthcare first approach," said attorney Brooke Weitzman, one of the lawyers who filed lawsuits against Orange County.

City officials agree to have social workers evaluate a homeless person first before enforcing any anti-camping or loitering laws. The goal is to place a transient into some sort of emergency shelter as a first step toward more long-term housing.

Also, transients will be able to utilize a "dispute resolution" process if they are denied shelter or evicted from one.

Transients who refuse services can be subjected to jailing as long as the participating city has demonstrated it has provided enough shelter beds for its homeless population.

"This is a momentous occasion," Carter said.

The judge predicted that other cities may see an "unintended migration" of transients from the cities that have entered into settlement agreements.

Carter said Laguna Beach officials, "starting tomorrow," can begin efforts to place transients into shelters, and, if they refuse, they'll face jail.

"We're going to clean up your libraries, your beaches," Carter said. "Those who decide they don't want the shelter will go to jail.

Carter said Laguna Beach shouldn't be "punished" for its "generosity" in sheltering the area's homeless.

Fullerton Mayor Jesus Silva told Carter that his city, which previously signed on to an agreement that included about a dozen cities in the northern part of the county, is working on a project that would provide up to 150 new beds for the area's homeless.

Carter approved an agreement in June that provides for new shelters in Buena Park and Placentia that will house homeless people in the northern part of the county.

Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton, however, said the Buena Park shelter may be in trouble as there is a $1 million shortfall in funding. She said a dispute among healthcare providers and the insurance agency for the area's needy has blocked the funding.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Efforts to establish an Orange County veterans cemetery took a significant step forward Thursday when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill authorizing studies of two potential sites in Irvine.

The governor signed a bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton, that authorizes feasibility studies of a so-called Amended and Restated Development Agreement (ARDA) site and a golf course site, which are both near the Orange County Great Park.

If voters choose the ARDA site then that will be where state and federal officials focus on developing the cemetery, Quirk-Silva said.