23 Jun Los Angeles County initiates pilot project to enhance mental health support for people experiencing homelessness
LOS ANGELES COUNTY — The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion by Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Mark Ridley-Thomas to initiate Homeless Outreach and Mobile Engagement (HOME) teams to provide critical treatment interventions and resources to people experiencing homelessness who have a mental illness.
“This is another important tool in our ongoing effort to serve those suffering with mental health issues who fall into chronic homelessness,” Supervisor Kathryn Barger said. “We remain dedicated to address the needs of these vulnerable individuals and must work together to find new solutions that improve and enhance the treatment options we provide for people experiencing homelessness.”
HOME teams, located throughout the county, include mental health psychiatrists, mental health counselors, psychiatric nurses, psychiatric social workers, substance abuse counselors, medical case workers, and peers. The staff will provide intensive outreach and engagement with access to resources including treatment and housing. If an individual is determined to be in imminent danger or is gravely disabled, they can be considered for a 72-hour hold for involuntary evaluation and treatment to ensure their protection and safety.
“Even before the pandemic, three of our homeless neighbors were dying on the streets every day. It is all the more urgent that we intervene humanely to prevent people from passively decaying on the streets as a result of severe and untreated mental illness,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “Today’s motion will allow the County’s Department of Mental Health to immediately deploy their Homeless Outreach Mobile Engagement teams to pilot street-based treatment and clinical oversight to help our most vulnerable residents get on the path to recovery.”
This effort is based on a proposed a pilot project developed by the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health to improve treatment and services for those with mental illness who experience a chronic cycle of homelessness, incarceration, and hospitalization.
“Our department’s countywide, multidisciplinary HOME teams interact on a daily basis with individuals whose lives have been shattered by serious mental illness,” said Dr. Jonathan Sherin, Director of the Department of Mental Health. “These clients are unable to make good decisions about their care. It is unjust and inhumane to allow our clients to be exposed to the streets or jails when help is available. This pilot program would provide our HOME teams additional engagement tools, including ‘outpatient conservatorship’ to ensure a client receives treatment, without having to rely on hospitalization.”
A link to the Board Motion can be found here.