AB 2417 (Hoover) Repealing Housing First – Oppose

March 18, 2024

The Honorable Christopher M. Ward
Chair, Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development
1020 N Street, Room 156
Sacramento, CA 95814

RE: Opposition of AB 2417 (Hoover)

Dear Assemblymember Ward,

Mental Health America of California (MHAC) writes in opposition to AB 2417 (Hoover), legislation that would repeal Housing First policies and the requirement of state agencies and departments to incorporate the core components of Housing First.

MHAC is a peer-run organization leading the state in behavioral health public policy and
advocacy since 1957. The mission of MHAC is to assist and encourage communities, families and individuals to experience hope, wellness and recovery from mental health and substance use disorder issues through voluntary services that are delivered in their local community with compassion and respect for everyone’s dignity and autonomy. Housing First plays a vital role in advancing MHAC’s mission and vision of enhancing individual recovery by safeguarding and emphasizing housing and services for homeless individuals facing behavioral health challenges.

Many unhoused individuals are susceptible to substance use and mental health challenges while living on the streets. An analysis of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Continuum of Care Program found that 25% of unhoused Californian’s have a mental health challenge.[1] As California continues to invest in resources that best support our unhoused community, housing remains the most effective tool in getting people off the street and connected to mental and behavioral health services.

Housing First reduces obstacles for unhoused individuals to access housing assistance and shields them from eviction stemming from their behavioral health issues. These safeguards encompass shielding individuals from housing discrimination, irrespective of their substance use, treatment history, or engagement in services. Additionally, it ensures protection from eviction solely based on alcohol or drug use, without the presence of other lease violations.

It is for these reasons we oppose AB 2417 (Hoover) and ask for your “No” vote. If you have any questions, or if MHAC can provide any assistance on this bill or any other behavioral health legislation, please do not hesitate to contact me or our Interim Public Policy Director, Karen Vicari, at kvicari@mhaofca.org.

In Community,

Heidi L. Strunk
President & CEO

[1] U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (n.d.). CoC Homeless Populations and Subpopulations Reports. Welcome to HUD Exchange – HUD Exchange. https://www.hudexchange.info/programs/coc/coc-homeless-populations-and-subpopulations-reports/