New Beginnings California Program Aimed at Boosting Homeless Employment Approved by Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

SACRAMENTO, CA – Assembly Bill 344, a measure authored by Majority Leader Ian Calderon (D-Whittier) which creates the New Beginnings California Program aimed at providing employment opportunities to those experiencing homelessness, was approved today by the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee with bipartisan support.

“AB 344 incentivizes local governments to either pursue a homeless employment program of their own, or expand on an existing one, “stated Majority Leader Calderon. “It offers another tool to help homeless citizens with the services they need, while offering them the opportunity to achieve the self-confidence that often accompanies employment.”

According to the latest federal Department of Housing and Urban Development report, California’s homeless population, as of 2018, has surged to 129,972 persons, accounting for roughly 24 perfect of the homeless population nationwide. In the last two years, dozens of city and county governments in California have declared homelessness an emergency.

Cities and counties throughout the state have started pursuing additional strategies to address homelessness. At least 17 California cities have introduced homeless employment programs. These programs are loosely based on the popular There’s a Better Way program in the City of Albuquerque, New Mexico, which was launched in 2015 and connects homeless individuals with employment. The City of Denver, Colorado launched one such program in 2016 called the Denver Day Works program. In the program’s first year, nearly 284 people were matched with work opportunities and 110 of these participants found permanent employment, either with the city or county, or with private business hiring partners.

AB 344 creates the New Beginnings California Program within the Department of Community Services and Development.  New Beginnings California will function as a grant program, wherein cities or counties may apply for matching funds to implement, expand, or continue employment programs for homeless individuals.  The Department can award up to 50 grants annually, at up to $50,000 in matching funds per grant.

In order to qualify, the program within the city or local continuum of care must:

  • Connect homeless individuals with work opportunities. Employment offered through the program may be with the city, a contracted service provider, or a private entity;
  • Pay program participants an hourly wage that is at or above the minimum wage;
  • Assist individuals who are not yet ready for employment with services and resources that will enable them to be prepared to work as soon as is feasible.

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Contact: Lerna Shirinian (562) 692-5858