Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian Introduces Bill to Streamline Use of State-Owned Armories to Reduce Homelessness

Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian introduced AB 761, which removes challenging requirements and drastically reduces the prohibitive costs municipalities and non-profits face when using state-owned armories as a tool to reduce homelessness.

“The state needs to do more to get people off the street and back on their feet,” stated Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian. “Drastically cutting the costs for cities and non-profits to use armories as temporary shelters is common sense.”

The Federal Housing and Urban Development Department estimates the number of people experiencing homelessness in California is 130,000 on a given night. That’s 25% of the entire nation’s homeless population. According to the 2018 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, approximately 75% of Los Angeles County’s 52,765 people experiencing homelessness were unsheltered. This presents immediate threats to the health and safety of those experiencing homelessness, while also straining the communities where these unsheltered individuals reside.

While the long-term solution to homelessness is permanent housing, temporary interim shelter provides a short-term respite from the elements, supportive services and case management that fosters connections to stable, sustainable housing solutions. Unfortunately, due to state code governing the use of these armories for emergency shelter, the cost of operation is estimated at over $1,000 per day.

AB 761 will slash costs by an estimated $600 for overnight stays, $800 for 24-hours.

Increasing the beds available will offer an opportunity to connect individuals with caseworkers, housing navigators, and mental health service providers and also save lives. As reported in the LA Times[1] this weekend, “hypothermia has led to more deaths in L.A. than in colder regions because 39,000 homeless people here live outdoors—by far the most of any metropolitan area in the country.”

“California may be known for its mild climate but we have people dying of exposure and hypothermia on our streets. In L.A. County alone, we can help 600 more people by utilizing our state armories,” stated Assemblymember Nazarian. “By functioning as emergency bridge housing year round, homeless individuals will be connected with caseworkers, housing navigators, mental health services, and vocational assistance,” stated Assemblymember Nazarian.

AB 761 seeks to make several changes to the state code, including:

  • Extending the period in which state-owned armories can be used from seasonal to year-round.
  • Bringing nightly fees that the State charges to local agencies for use of armories in alignment with comparable market rates for use of similar spaces as interim housing.
  • Creating standardized procedures for accommodating people on drill days and other emergencies when the armory is not available for use.
  • Offering jurisdictions choice in whether security should be provided by local law enforcement or by outside security contractors.

This bill ensures that local jurisdictions have increased options for providing for the health and safety of their most vulnerable residents. With easier access to state-owned armories, more homeless Californians can be brought into safe shelter sites and off the streets.