Governor Newsom Signs Innovative Legislation to Protect Californians at Risk of Homelessness

Friday, September 27, 2019

New law is based on research from Dr. Margot Kushel and will encourage landlords and tenants to open their homes and help those most in need remain sheltered

SACRAMENTO — Yesterday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill (AB) 1188, an innovative measure by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-San Fernando Valley) that will empower landlords and tenants to provide temporary shelter to individuals at risk of homelessness. Most significantly, AB 1188 makes it easier for tenants to enter into an agreement with their landlord allowing them to temporarily house a friend or family member in need, and creates a new legal framework that will incentivize both landlords and tenants to assist persons at risk of homelessness.

AB 1188 is based on research and recommendations from Dr. Margot Kushel, a leading researcher at UC San Francisco, who has identified temporary housing with family or friends as a critical and underutilized tool in homelessness prevention, especially for vulnerable seniors. Dr. Kushel recently received a $30 million grant from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff to conduct further research on evidence-based solutions—such as those provided in this bill—that will help to prevent and end homelessness.

“Experts have told us repeatedly that keeping more folks from slipping into homelessness is the most important step we can take to address the current crisis,” said Assemblymember Gabriel. “AB 1188 will remove legal barriers and provide tenants with greater flexibility to assist friends or loved ones in a time of desperate need. Keeping folks sheltered will save lives and taxpayer resources and give the most vulnerable Californians an opportunity to regroup while searching for more stable housing.”

AB 1188 was crafted with input from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, the California Apartment Association, and other stakeholders to help ensure that it strikes the appropriate balance in protecting the rights of tenants, landlords, and individuals seeking temporary shelter. This innovative approach secured support from across the political spectrum and was endorsed by leaders and organizations that have often been at odds on issues related to housing and homelessness.

“Landlords have an important role to play in addressing our homelessness crisis,” said Dan Tenebaum, an apartment owner and Commissioner with the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles. “I applaud Assemblymember Gabriel for bringing together apartment owners and tenant organizations to craft this innovative new law and hope my fellow landlords will step up and join me in providing shelter to those most in need.”

“The best way to end homelessness is to stop it from happening in the first place,” said Kris Freed, the Chief Program Officer for L.A. Family Housing. “If we can keep people from entering the system by allowing them to remain connected to a viable support system, then we will have a better chance at reducing homelessness in our region.”

“As communities grapple with creating shelters and navigation centers, we should see housing with family as one solution to expand the options to get homeless individuals inside and stabilized, while they seek permanent housing,” said Dr. Margot Kushel. “And we should do it in a way that holds the families and dear friends who offer this important service harmless, so that they do not risk their own eviction (and homelessness) because they are willing to offer a helping hand to a loved one experiencing homelessness. We recognize that this will not solve homelessness; but believe that providing a means to formalize this arrangement thereby reducing the risk of eviction for families who host homeless loved ones is an important goal. I applaud Assemblymember Gabriel’s work in shepherding this innovative and important legislation.”

In the coming weeks, Assemblymember Gabriel plans to work with apartment owners, tenant groups, and legal aid organizations to raise awareness about this new law and encourage those who are able to assist individuals at risk of homelessness.

Jesse Gabriel is Assistant Majority Whip of the State Assembly. He represents the 45th Assembly District, which includes much of the west San Fernando Valley. Gabriel currently serves on the Committees on Housing and Community Development, Higher Education, Banking and Finance, Privacy and Consumer Protection, and Appropriations.