Davis Announces $10.8M in Grants for the Mentally Ill Homeless
As part of the Governor's Homeless Initiative, Gov. Gray Davis (D) on Monday announced grants worth $10.8 million to 17 local mental health agencies to treat people with mental illnesses who are homeless. In 1999, Davis signed legislation creating a $10 million pilot program in three counties to provide services for people with mental illnesses who are homeless. Since then, the program has expanded to 4,709 enrollees in 34 participating counties. The new grants will add another 972 people and will add two counties, and the total funding for the program will increase to $65.6 million. The grants will cover mental health treatment, medications, alcohol and drug abuse treatment, transportation, vocational rehabilitation, supported employment and various types of housing support. The average cost per individual is $14,000. The grants are intended to help participating mental health agencies prevent homeless and incarceration of at-risk individuals through outreach and community-based services. The money also is intended to assist agencies in reducing the need for expensive emergency care, increasing the employment rate for these individuals and "stabilizing lives." Davis said, "This initiative continues our commitment to help persons who are mentally ill and homeless receive the treatment and support they need to become stable and productive members of their communities" (Office of the Governor release, 3/25). A complete list of the county agencies receiving grants can be found online.
San Francisco Chronicle columnists Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross report that San Francisco will not be "getting a cent" of the recently announced grants. Two years ago, San Francisco's Public Health Department received $2.3 million for services for the mentally ill-homeless as part of the initial three-year, $55 million program. However, 15 months into the program, the city had not enrolled the required 120 clients, making San Francisco ineligible to receive additional funds. According to the Chronicle, the "majority" of the city's 7,000 people who are homeless have "mental health issues." Stephen Mayberg, director of the state Department of Mental Health, said, "You only have to walk out the door anywhere in [San Francisco] (to find mentally ill homeless)," adding, "[City officials] didn't seem to understand the concept where you have to do more active outreach and collaborate with other agencies." Wayne Clark, the city Health Department official who runs the mentally ill-homeless program, "We were dealing with a startup problem because we had to hire city staff. But we solved that problem, and now we're oversubscribed with 123 clients" (Matier/Ross, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/27).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.