House Bill 163 – Homelessness Signed by the Governor

The Governor signed House Bill 163 by Representative Thad Altman on June 18, 2020.

HB 163 revises the state’s approach to preventing and ending homelessness by aligning state requirements with requirements of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for awarding grants to Continuum of Care (CoC) lead agencies. As a result, the State Office on Homelessness (State Office) will be able to award grant money more expeditiously and efficiently.

The bill requires each CoC lead agency to create a continuum of care plan which implements an effective and efficient housing crisis response system to prevent and end homelessness in the CoC catchment area. The bill also requires the State Office to align its catchment areas for CoC lead agencies with HUD’s catchment areas. The bill adds representatives from the Florida Housing Coalition and the Department of Elder Affairs to the Council on Homelessness, which develops recommendations on how to reduce homelessness statewide and advises the State Office.

HB 163 also increases the amount of Challenge Grant funds each CoC lead agency may receive annually from $500,000 to $750,000, and it reduces the amount of matching funds or in-kind support required for a Challenge Grant recipient from 100 percent to 25 percent. The bill also increases the maximum percentage of grant funds that a CoC lead agency may spend on its administrative costs from 8 percent to 10 percent and changes the preference for funding to be for COC lead agencies that have a demonstrated ability to move households out of homelessness.

The bill amends sections of law outlining two approaches to housing services, Rapid ReHousing and Housing First. It requires that individuals and families being considered for Rapid ReHousing assistance be assessed and prioritized through the continuum of care’s coordinated entry system. The bill also removes the program element indicating a benefit for an individual to have a background check and complete rehabilitation for any addiction to substances when participating in Housing First services.

The bill was approved by the Governor on June 19, 2020 and will become effective on July 1, 2020.

 

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