Currrent as of February 4, 2022
Senate Bill No. 344
Introduced by Senator Hertzberg
An act to add Chapter 3.6 (commencing with Section 50535) to Part 2 of Division 31 of the Health and Safety Code, relating to homeless shelters.
LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST
SB 344, as amended, Hertzberg. Homeless shelters grants: pets and veterinary services.
Existing law establishes the California Emergency Solutions and Housing Program, under the administration of the Department of Housing and Community Development and requires the department to, among other things, provide rental assistance and housing relocation and stabilization services to ensure housing affordability to people who are experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of homelessness.
This bill would require the department, subject to an appropriation in the annual Budget Act, to develop and administer a program to award grants to qualified homeless shelters, as described, for the provision of shelter, food, and basic veterinary services for pets owned by people experiencing homelessness. The bill would authorize the department to use up to 5% of the funds appropriated in the annual Budget Act for those purposes for its costs in administering the program.
Vote: majority Appropriation: no Fiscal Committee: yes Local Program: no
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:
The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) California is experiencing increased homelessness.
(b) According to Pets of the Homeless, of the 3,500,000 Americans who are homeless, 5 to 10 percent have dogs or cats.
(c) Many shelters, motels, and other assisted housing programs do not permit animals on their property, pushing potential recipients to live in cars, recreational vehicles (RVs), and tent camps.
(d) Being asked to abandon a pet is a major barrier to engaging homeless persons to use services and is emotionally draining to an already vulnerable population.
(e) Pets provide warmth, security, and companionship to many who sleep on the streets. Pets also provide a type of normalcy, as providing food and water for their pets helps some homeless persons connect with reality.
(f) After surrendering a pet, owners reunite with their dogs only 15 percent of the time, while 60 percent or more of animals are left in the animal shelter system and most will die.
(g) By providing services for pets whose owners are without a home, both ends of the leash would be getting needed assistance. More homeless people in need would be inclined to obtain medical and living assistance, and the conditions for their pets would be improved.
Chapter 3.6 (commencing with Section 50535) is added to Part 2 of Division 31 of the Health and Safety Code, to read:
CHAPTER 3.6. Homeless Shelters: Pets and Veterinary Services
(a) The department shall develop and administer a program to award grants to qualified homeless shelters for the provision of shelter, food, and basic veterinary services for pets owned by people experiencing homelessness.
(b) For purposes of this section, a “qualified homeless shelter” means a homeless shelter that meets or commits to meeting all of the following conditions:
(1) It has rules of conduct and responsibility regarding pets and their owners.
(2) It provides crates or kenneling either near bunks or in a separate area.
(3) It provides food for both people experiencing homelessness and their pets.
(4) It offers the services of a veterinarian, including spay and neutering services.
(c) The department may use up to 5 percent of the funds appropriated in the annual Budget Act for the purposes of this section for its costs in administering the program authorized by this section.
(d) The department may implement the program through the issuance of forms, guidelines, and one or more notices of funding availability, as the department deems necessary, to exercise the powers and perform the duties conferred on it by this chapter. Any forms, guidelines, and notices of funding availability adopted pursuant to this section are hereby exempted from the rulemaking provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act (Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 11340) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code).
(e) The provisions of this section shall be operative subject to an appropriation in the annual Budget Act.