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SLO County wants to roll out ‘clinics on wheels’ to treat mentally ill homeless people

Saying that more than 25 percent of homeless Californians have severe mental illness, Gov. Jerry Brown and state legislators allocated $50 million to local agencies this year to increase services and outreach. Homelessness is increasing statewide and persists in San Luis Obispo County. Here, an unidentified man cleans up around his living area in Grover Beach that was cleared out in 2016.
Saying that more than 25 percent of homeless Californians have severe mental illness, Gov. Jerry Brown and state legislators allocated $50 million to local agencies this year to increase services and outreach. Homelessness is increasing statewide and persists in San Luis Obispo County. Here, an unidentified man cleans up around his living area in Grover Beach that was cleared out in 2016. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

A team of local experts who work with homeless people in San Luis Obispo County want to use a one-time allowance of $500,000 in state funds to pay for new mobile outreach vans that would act like “clinics on wheels” for people with severe mental illness.

The county has extra money to treat people with mental illness who are homeless or about to be homeless thanks to an allocation from the state, which set aside $50 million this year for local agencies to address what state leaders called a critical need.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors will vote on the local plan that includes buying one or two new vans using those State Homeless Mentally Ill Outreach and Treatment funds.

While the county already provides mobile services for health care, mental health treatment and housing services through a Homeless Outreach Team, the program is “unable to meet the increasing need for outreach and treatment,” according to a brief report about the proposal.

New vans would work similarly to a “clinic on wheels” run by Community Health Care Centers of the Central Coast and would be staffed by a peer support specialist, a case manager and a clinician, and would be equipped with a computer that could be used to access a psychiatrist or nurse for telepsychiatry.

The proposal calls to pay for staffing in future years with funds from a combination of Medi-Cal reimbursement and Mental Health Services Act funds.

Success of the program would be measured by:

  • Number of people served.
  • Number of people newly enrolled in mental health services.
  • Number of people linked to other services, including drug and alcohol treatment.
  • Number of people transitioned to shelter.
  • Number of people showing a reduction in arrests for crimes related to homelessness.

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San Luis Obispo County's Homeless Point-in-Time Homeless Census and Survey took place Jan. 30, 2017, to calculate the area's homeless population. Volunteers walked and drove around the county, recording any homeless individuals they saw.



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