Senator Scott Wiener and Assemblywoman Blanca E. Rubio’s Bill to Stem Rising Rates of Youth Homelessness Passes California Legislature

SB 918 directs the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council to help set specific measurable goals to prevent and end youth homelessness in California
August 31, 2018

Sacramento –  Today Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) and Assemblywoman Blanca E. Rubio’s (D-Baldwin Park) bill to help the rising number of homeless youth in California, Senate Bill 918, passed the California Legislature. It passed with a vote of 39-0 and now heads to the Governor for his signature.

SB 918 directs the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council to set specific measurable goals and map progress toward ending youth homelessness. The council is also required to

  • Decrease the duration and frequency of youth who experience homelessness
  • Develop and collect data on county-level and statewide numbers on youth homelessness
  • Coordinate efforts to prevent homelessness among youth who were involved in the child welfare or juvenile justice systems
  • Coordinate with young people experiencing homelessness, appropriate state entities and other stakeholders to inform policy, practices, and programs

SB 918 also expands the recently formed Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council by one seat to include a representative from the Office of Homeless Youth. 

“It’s unacceptable that so many youth are living on our streets,” said Senator Wiener. “We have a moral responsibility to help these kids get into housing, get stable, and get onto a positive path in life. Yet, two-thirds of our counties don’t even have youth-specific homeless programs, and the state itself isn’t doing enough. SB 918 is a first step toward ensuring California doesn’t let these kids fall through the cracks.”

“When we look at the root causes for why youth are homeless, we come to find they are drastically different from the reasons why adults might find themselves living on the streets,” said Assemblywoman Rubio.  “Homeless youth have needs and risks that are starkly different than the general homeless population and as such, we should do more to address their unique needs. SB 918 will put California on a path to address a shameful problem, where on any given night in our state more than 15,000 youth are living on our streets.”

Preliminary data from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2017 homeless count shows the number of homeless youth in California has increased to over 15,000, a 26% increase from 2016, and 32% increase from 2015. Another study released by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago found that one in 10 youth between the ages of 18 and 25 and one in 30 adolescents between the age of 13 and 17 experience some form of homelessness over the years in the United States. That is equal to about 3.5 million 18-25 year-olds and 700,000 13-17 year olds who are experiencing homelessness. 

SB 918 is sponsored by the California Coalition for Youth, Tipping Point Community, Equality California, John Burton Advocates for Youth, the Corporation for Supportive Housing, and Housing California.  

Last fall, Senator Wiener and Assemblywoman Rubio, who are the respective Chairs of the Senate and Assembly Human Services Committees, held a joint hearing in Los Angeles on Youth Homelessness. At that hearing, service providers, researchers, and formerly homeless youth all testified about the causes, impacts, and experiences of youth homelessness in California. The Los Angeles LGBT Center reported that the Homeless Youth Count found 6,000 youth in LA County alone this year. Of these youth, 90% were between the ages of 18-24, 80% were young youth of color, and 70% were from LA County A recording of the hearing can be viewed on Senator Wiener’s website: (http://sd11.senate.ca.gov/video/20171010-informational-hearing-california%E2%80%99s-homeless-youth-averting-long-term-crisis)

At that hearing, Senator Wiener and Assemblywoman Rubio announced they would work toward a bill to address the issue, which developed into SB 918.

“The Legislature’s passage of SB 918 takes a historic and long overdue step in elevating the needs of youth and young adults experiencing homelessness within our State,” said Sherilyn Adams, Executive Director of Larkin Street Youth Services and Board Chair of the California Coalition for Youth. “On behalf of CCY and our members, I want to thank Senator Wiener and Assemblywoman Rubio for their vision, leadership and relentless efforts on the bill, which came out of their joint hearing last fall on the issue. SB 918 is bold action toward insuring that no young person lays their head on our street, and that every young person in our State has the opportunity to reach their full potential."

"Almost half of all individuals experiencing chronic homelessness were homeless before their 25th birthday,” said Daniel Lurie, CEO and Founder, Tipping Point Community. “We must invest in resources for our most vulnerable youth if we ever want to reduce California's homelessness crisis. SB 918 is an important step to ensuring that the State has a structure in place and is focused on solutions for youth experiencing homelessness."

"Out of every ten young Californians experiencing homelessness in our major cities, four identify as LGBTQ," said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur. "SB 918 is a critical step toward finally solving this crisis in a comprehensive way — by providing our youth with the resources and opportunities they need and deserve. We're deeply grateful to Senator Wiener and Assemblymember Rubio for their leadership and to members of the Legislature for their broad bipartisan support."

“Housing California commends Senator Wiener and Assemblymember Rubio for their hard work to pass the Homeless Youth Act of 2018, recognizing that to end homelessness in our state for good, we must address the issue for Californians of all ages and circumstances,” said Housing California Executive Director Lisa Hershey. “We are a young, innovative state, but we have the highest number of homeless youth in the country and little to no affordable housing options for them. We must to do everything we can to support our youth to ensure a strong, prosperous future California.”

In addition to Senator Wiener and Assemblymember Rubio’s authorship, SB 918 is co-authored by Senators Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), Jim Beall (D-San Jose), Steven Glazer (D-Orinda), Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), Connie Leyva (D-Chino), Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada), Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita), and Assemblymembers David Chiu (D-San Francisco), Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova), Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego), Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), Brian Maienschein (R-San Diego), Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley), Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), Eloise Gomez Reyes (D-Grand Terrace), Freddie Rodriguez (D-Pomona), Marc Steinorth (R-Rancho Cucamonga), Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley), and Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond). 

SB 918 Text:

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB918