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San Diego County To Improve Services For Mentally Ill Homeless People

February 3, 2016 1:36 p.m.

San Diego County To Improve Services For Mentally Ill Homeless People


Greg Cox, San Diego County Board of Supervisors

Related Story: San Diego County To Improve Services For Mentally Ill Homeless People


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

They are just about as down and out as human beings can possibly get. These lost souls share our streets. Those are words from San Diego County supervisor Greg Cox about severely mentally ill homeless people. The San Diego County Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved a plan to improve services for these lost souls. The proposal is modeled after the successful housing first program called Project 25. The county's plan is called one for all. Joining me is supervisor Greg Cox. Welcome to the program.
Thank you Maureen.
About how many homeless people in San Diego might be classified as severely mentally ill?
Based on the point in Time count we had last year, it was almost 8800 homeless that were out there. Last Friday, when we get the numbers, it will be higher. It's about 20% -- roughly 20 to 25% about 1500 would be classified as severely mentally ill.
One of -- what do those conditions include?
People with dual diagnosis, a lot have alcohol or drug addiction problems. Underlying problem is predicated by mental illness net needs to be treated. The best way to treat it is to get the individuals into permanent supportive housing. So those wraparound supports can be provided.
Give us an idea of the services. What does the project intend to provide for these homeless people?
It will be a tremendous outreach effort by not only the county, but we hope to incorporate all 18 cities. Last week when the supervisor and I had a media session to talk about this, we were honored to have Mayor Kevin Faulconer and [ name unknown ] from the city of Chula Vista. Its estimated about 70% of the severely mentally ill come from the city of San Diego and the city of Chula Vista. We will be reaching out to our friends and friends -- the San Diego apartment Association developers to see if we -- an apartment owners that may not be members of the apartment Association to see if we can identify housing. We can get some of these individuals off the streets and get them into supportive and permanent housing. Housing first is the buzzword in this region and across the United States now. If we get been stable in an environment when they have -- where they have the basic necessities survived -- provided. The county will step in with significant funding from prop 63 -- the mental health -- mental health act to provide those wraparound services. We call this a full service partnership where we will be working with cities, nonprofits -- to step in and make sure we get the underlying problems taking care of. If it's a drug or alcohol problem -- do without. And get these individuals on a stabilized program and get them the meds they need and make sure they have a chance to return to society in a productive manner.
Just this morning the mayor announced an effort to house 1000 homeless veterans. As I've been speaking with people about these various housing first projects in San Diego, one thing that comes up all the time is the lack of affordable housing. People will say, yes, this is a good idea and we want to do this, but there is actually know where to put these people. How will the County address that next
We think that project one for all will work hand-in-hand with the mayors initiative -- particularly as it relates to housing veterans. There's an ability through San Diego's funding sources to provide housing for veterans. They will be looking out working with landlords to give them the first months rent, pay the security but -- deposit and provide utility assistance. If we can work with the city and their trucking about dealing with 1000 veterans, some of that will be veterans who will be eligible for the various other housing programs that are out there the [ name unknown ] certificates. That would get them in the door. If we can get them stabilized, the county will come in to provide support services. We are working very closely with the regional continuum of care for the homeless and Todd [ name unknown ] did a marvelous job as chair of the commission. We will continue to do that. Ray Cox
Greg Cox he mentioned state money mentioned -- meant to be's spent on Mental Health Services. The county has $170 million that can be allocated to the services. Supervisors have gotten criticism about sitting on that money. As the homeless problem rose in San Diego what is your response to that?
Again that is the one percent tax on the millionaires. It's a very volatile source of revenues from year to year. If we have years like we had in 2008 and 2009, that will diminish significantly. We have been collecting the money. We spend about $140 million a year on providing programs and services and housing for the homeless in the unincorporated area. I think we did have a collection of money that accrued, but I think before we went out and threw it out at different issues and problems -- we wanted to go out into the community, which we did last fall, we had 12 or 13 different community forms were we invited people from the community that providers, clients and families of people with mental health issues -- and really wanted to listen to the issues on their part and put together a plan.
Is that for the Genesis of this plan came from?
This will be a follow-up to the research done. In two weeks ago we had a board meeting where we appropriated $6 million to be used toward providing more services directly to the homeless. Before we went out and just started funding agencies, we wanted to sit down and try to come up with an integrated plan. I think that's what we've been doing over the last couple of weeks.
What's the timeline on getting this new program up and running?
The board's action which was unanimously approved, is to really develop an intensive wraparound program for local homeless individuals with Seville mental illnesses. We've asked our chief administrative officer to identify other County funding sources that might be able to be matched with prop 63 funding. And to sit down and work with the cities or local housing authorities, nonprofit organizations to pair housing operations with wraparound services for the severely mentally ill. Our officer should be reporting back within 120 days with regards to project one for all, and we should be ready to implement this probably in the early spring.
All right then. Thank you for speaking with us. I have been speaking with the new County supervisor, Greg Cox. They do so much.
Thank you Maureen.