California’s counties unveil comprehensive ‘AT HOME’ plan to address homelessness; allege California currently lacks a holistic plan to address homelessness

The California State Association of Counties (Lassen County is a member) recently unveiled its AT HOME plan — a first-of-its-kind comprehensive approach to effectively and equitably address homelessness in California.

The six-pillar AT HOME plan — approved by the CSAC Board of Directors — includes broad goals and specific policy proposals to ensure clear lines of responsibility and accountability for every level of government to improve the way California collectively responds to those who are unhoused or at risk of becoming unhoused.

“Nearly every major policy area in the state has a real system with clear responsibilities, except homelessness,” said Graham Knaus, CEO, CSAC. “This is unacceptable and leads to failure. CSAC is committed to changing this. We’ll work with our federal, state and local colleagues and partner with the Governor and Legislature to discuss and implement AT HOME, which provides a blueprint for reducing and mitigating homelessness in California.”

“No one level of government is solely responsible for the homelessness crisis,” said Chuck Washington, Riverside County Supervisor and CSAC President. “But any and all efforts to address homelessness will fail without a comprehensive system in which roles and responsibilities are clear. Accountability is foundational to achieving successful outcomes, and that is why so much of our proposal rests within that first accountability pillar.”

AT HOME was developed after months of an all-county effort analyzing barriers to addressing homelessness and developing solutions, all tailored to the unique needs of urban, suburban and rural communities.

The six pillars of the AT HOME plan are:

  • Accountability: Clear responsibilities aligned to authority, resources, and flexibility for all levels of government.
  • Transparency: Integrate and expand data to improve program effectiveness.
  • Housing: Increase and maintain housing units across the spectrum.
  • Outreach: Develop sustainable outreach systems and increase workforce to support these systems.
  • Mitigation: Strengthen safety net programs.
  • Economic Opportunity: Create employment and education pathways, as well as supports for basic needs.

“Counties administer most health and human service programs on behalf of the state,” said Kathryn Barger, Los Angeles County Supervisor and CSAC board member. “Our ability to do so effectively is largely driven by having access to sustainable funding that reflects the scope of services we are responsible for along with flexibility so we can deliver results. Addressing our local homelessness crises effectively mirrors that approach – hold counties accountable but give us latitude and access to uninterrupted funds so we can deliver on our predefined goals.”

“The lack of affordable housing and shelter is a major contributor to homelessness, especially for aged, disabled, justice-involved and very low-income Californians,” said Keith Carson, Alameda County Supervisor and CSAC board member. “At the local level we need more flexibility and less red tape to build a full housing continuum. Working closely with cities, the AT HOME plan identifies ways to begin to streamline this process, remove barriers, provide resources, and support the development of infrastructure.”

“We don’t have enough trained health, behavioral health, and human services workers to manage the programs and services that assist with addressing homelessness,” said Nora Vargas, San Diego County Supervisor and CSAC board member. “The AT HOME plan identifies ways to recruit, train and retain more people, including those with lived experience, to help with outreach, rapid response, follow up, retention and other critical programs and services.”

“We need to institutionalize data-driven decision making. But current data systems and data sharing are antiquated and don’t support an integrated case management approach,” said Vito Chiesa, Stanislaus County Supervisor and CSAC Treasurer.

“We need more robust systems to both collect and share data to improve accountability and transparency so we can track the services provided and make decisions based on facts.”

“To address homelessness over the long-term, there must be a goal and focus on employment, self-sufficiency, and the ability to cover basic needs for formerly homeless individuals,” said Ryan Campbell, Tuolumne County Supervisor and CSAC board member. “Specialized education and career supports are needed for formerly homeless, including justice-involved individuals, veterans, and former foster youth, to help support economic stability and opportunity. Counties need additional support to build these programs.”

“Massive economic and systemic inequities, as well as a tangled web of policies and programs built over decades, continue to stymie efforts to support those who are unhoused or at risk of becoming unhoused,” said Supervisor Washington. “It won’t be quick or easy, but with the state, counties and cities working together, AT HOME provides a roadmap to reducing and mitigating homelessness in California.”

California’s Counties are determined to work with our state and local partners to implement the comprehensive AT HOME plan to help those who are unhoused or at risk of becoming unhoused in our communities.

Visit the CSAC website for more information on the AT HOME plan.

The California State Association of Counties is the voice of California’s 58 counties. for more information.