Big Wins!! California Legislative Updates

On October 14th, California Governor, Jerry Brown, Signed into Law a whole host of Housing Bills aimed at making housing more affordable, and getting more of our most at-risk neighbors housed. One such bill was AB 74, the Housing for a Healthy California Bill. Co-sponsored by Housing California, the bill aligns housing assistance and health care resources to fight homelessness in a new and exciting way: Housing Is Healthcare.

For those of us who work closely with the unhoused, we know this already. But, for most Californian’s, the connection often seems tenuous. The connection between “living rough” and illness is profound. All illnesses are deeply and adversely affected by lack of housing. Without housing, keeping clean becomes difficult, if impossible. Addressing wound care becomes a secondary concern when you don’t have access to clean, running water. Taking medication for ongoing conditions such as diabetes, bi-polar disorder, or other common, and easily managed diagnosis, is difficult when you have nowhere to safely store them; Insulin, which must be refrigerated, or keeping track of complicated prescription cocktails when you are worried about where you will sleep tonight.

This legislation bridges this gap between healthcare and housing by working with counties to establish housing units in the communities where people already are. They will not lose their communities, their jobs, their healthcare providers, their support systems. Housing First works! This bill saves lives, while also saving money!

Another big legislative win was SB 310, the Name and Dignity Act. BOSS was so deeply in support of this bill that our Executive Director even wrote a letter of support to Governor Brown. We are so please that it has been signed!

SB 310 is the first California Legislation written for, and by the community it represents! Now, Transgender identified individuals in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) have the opportunity to have their chosen names, as well as their gender markers adjusted to represent them more accurately.

This law is important not just for the dignity afforded to our siblings in the trans community, but also because it goes a long way to breaking down many of the barriers to accessing employment, healthcare, and housing. “Transgender people are disproportionately impacted by recidivism due to being pushed out of traditional economies, housing and healthcare,” said Janetta Johnson, Executive Director of the TGI Justice Project. “A person exiting prison with identification documents that actually match who they are has an exponential impact on their ability to access life-giving services without some of the discrimination that comes with having identification documents that don’t match their gender presentation”

SB 310 was supported by many worthwhile organizations such as Transgender Gendervariant Intersex Justice Project, the St. James Infirmary, the Western Regional Advocacy Project, the Transgender Law Center, the Women’s Foundation of California and Equality California.

These new laws go far to protecting people and making them whole. We at BOSS are so proud of our Legislators and Governor for passing so many important and groundbreaking laws, for safeguarding our citizens, and for #TurningLivesAround!