Posted on Monday, November 19, 2018
Guest Commentary/Posted Nov. 19, 2018
By Darrell Steinberg
Special to CALmatters
It’s an amazing story, really. A testament to the priorities – and the hearts — of California voters.
Earlier this month, more than 6.5 million people voted in favor of Proposition 2, the initiative that will generate billions of dollars to build supportive housing, linked to services and treatment, for people living with a serious mental illness who are homeless or at risk of chronic homelessness.
Proposition 2 not only passed. It drew more votes than any proposition on the statewide ballot.
The outcome underscores the extent to which people across this state recognize homelessness as a crisis that is tearing at the fabric of our communities. How many times have you walked by someone huddled in a doorway, disheveled and disoriented, and wondered, “What can one person do?”
About a third of the people subsisting on our streets and alleys live with untreated mental illness. Without stable housing, the challenges of getting them into effective treatment and recovery are monumental and sometimes impossible. Instead, our police and firefighters have become the first and last resort for responding to people in psychiatric crisis.
Proposition 2 offers a real, evidence-based solution: stable housing partnered with wraparound services.
And voters’ overwhelming support for its passage marks a call to arms: We need to attack homelessness–and the untreated mental illness that so often lands people on the streets—as the public health crisis that it is.
We need to move fast, as we do when responding to other disasters of monstrous proportion. We need to get this money out and ensure our cities and counties work collaboratively to get the housing built, and to pair those homes with the services that make this treatment model successful.
So what happens now?
Posted on Wednesday, November 7, 2018
We wanted to take a moment to recognize a truly watershed moment for mental health care in California. On Tuesday, state voters approved Proposition 2, culminating three years of hard work, advocacy and outreach by our institute and so many of our friends and fellow advocates across the state and on both sides of the political aisle.
This is no small victory. Proposition 2 at long last launches the “No Place Like Home” Program and will address a critical missing link in California’s continuum of care for people living with serious mental illness. It means a $2 billion infusion to build permanent supportive housing, linked to treatment and services, for people living homeless with a serious mental illness. Every county in California stands to benefit. Over the course of the program, we expect this pivotal investment to generate 20,000 units of housing linked to evidence-based services – and to move tens of thousands of people off the streets and into recovery.
Most of us are deeply aware of the strain homelessness has put on our neighborhoods, businesses, law enforcement and sense of community. We also know that about a third of the people living on the streets are there with untreated mental illness. This is a public health travesty that results in untold suffering and hundreds of deaths every year. By approving Proposition 2, Californians have stepped up strong to address this crisis, and we will see a difference.
So, how will it work? The state will draw on a very small portion of MHSA funds to leverage $2 billion in bonds to build permanent supportive housing that, by statute, must be linked to intensive treatment and services. The program is structured so that all counties have access to funding. And most are eager to launch: At this point, every county in the state has applied for – and been awarded – a NPLH planning grant.
Proposition 2 gives our communities a road map – and financial incentive — to invest meaningful resources in a proven model of care. Our heartfelt thanks for your support as we have fought to make this a reality. Without question, it will mean a better California.
Maggie Merritt/Executive Director
Posted on Monday, September 24, 2018
What is Proposition 2?
Proposition 2 will provide permanent supportive housing linked to treatment and services to help people with serious mental illness who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless.
Why do we need Proposition 2?
We have a homelessness crisis in California that is straining our neighborhoods, businesses and public services. More than 134,000 Californians are living on the streets and as many as one-third of them are suffering from untreated mental illness. We also know the solution: Research shows that providing permanent supportive housing, linked to intensive services, has proven successful at getting people who are homeless and have a serious mental illness off the streets and into effective care. A recent RAND analysis that tracked a permanent supportive housing program in Los Angeles County found the foundation of housing helped get more than 3,500 people off the streets since 2012 and reduced taxpayer costs by 20 percent.
Who is the target population to be served?
Prop 2 will help adults with serious mental illness and children with severe emotional disorders and their families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
How does Proposition 2 work?
Prop 2 builds permanent supportive housing linked to mental health treatment and services – at no new cost for taxpayers – under a $2 billion bond. The bond will be financed using the Mental Health Services Act, also known as Proposition 63, the millionaire’s tax passed by California voters in 2004 that now generates $2.2 billion annually to improve mental health care across the state. Prop 2 will use just 6 percent of the annual revenue generated under the Act, with funding going to local communities and all California counties to support planning and construction of permanent supportive housing. The housing must be linked to support services for residents that are on site or easily accessible.
Posted on Wednesday, September 19, 2018
BY THE CHRONICLE EDITORIAL BOARD
Darrell Steinberg, long one of the state’s leaders in mental-health policy, had always envisioned that housing would be key to the strategy of stabilizing people with severe mental illness. California voters in 2004 approved Steinberg’s Proposition 63, a surtax on income over $1 million to expand mental-health programs — but the measure did not explicitly mention housing.
Prop. 2, on the Nov. 6 ballot, would close that gap. It would authorize $2 billion in bonds from the Mental Health Services Act (as Prop. 63 is known) to build supportive housing for people with severe mental illness who are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The bond repayment would amount to about $130 million a year out of a fund that is now bringing in about $2 billion annually.
Posted on Monday, September 10, 2018
BY THE LOS ANGELES TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD
Like much of the rest of the nation, California went only halfway toward keeping its promise to improve mental health care. It closed psychiatric hospitals, some of which were really just costly warehouses for the sick rather than modern medical facilities offering effective treatment. But the state didn’t follow through on its commitment to provide better alternatives, like community-based clinics that deliver the treatment and services needed to integrate patients into society, working and living independently where possible.
We can see the result of those half-measures every day. About a third of homeless people in Los Angeles and across the country are on the street because of untreated mental illnesses that prevent them from staying housed or holding down a job.
We’ve begun to make amends, at least of a sort. Fourteen years ago, voters passed Proposition 63, known informally as the millionaires’ tax and more properly as the Mental Health Services Act. It raises billions of dollars for services.
More recently, Los Angeles voters adopted tax measures to raise money for supportive housing — units that will give homeless people, including those with serious mental health challenges, the opportunity for dignified and independent living while receiving the medical care and services they need to hold their illnesses at bay and stay off the streets.
These are fine programs, but if they’re all we’ve got they will be futile. The ranks of mentally ill homeless Californians are constantly being replenished. As fast as we can lead the sick and suffering into homes, they are replaced on the street by new generations of people whose mental illnesses were left undiagnosed or untreated at an early stage, when they still could have been held in check.
Posted on Tuesday, August 14, 2018
By Darrell Steinberg and Scott Wiener
Special to The Sacramento Bee
August 02, 2018
In coming weeks, the Legislature will have the opportunity to pass a measure that would change the lives of thousands of Californians at risk of serious mental illness, increase access to quality mental health treatment, and ultimately turn the tide in our homelessness crisis.
But it means being more strategic and accountable in how we deliver mental health services in California. And that makes it controversial. It’s a gut-check moment. And we’re calling on state leaders to rise to the occasion.
The issue at hand is the state Mental Health Services Act. That’s the millionaire’s tax passed in 2004 that generates $2.2 billion a year for mental health care. Without question, the act has been a game-changer, providing a lifeline for tens of thousands of people whose lives have been derailed by serious mental illness.
But should it – and could it – be making an even bigger difference? We say yes.
Posted on Friday, April 27, 2018
Landmark legislation that would make California the first state in the nation to establish voluntary mental health standards for the workplace was approved on the Senate floor Thursday by unanimous vote and moves to the Assembly with strong bipartisan backing. SB 1113, authored by Senator Bill Monning, D-Carmel, marks a bold effort to combat the stigma that still shrouds mental health in our nation and ensure mental illness is addressed with the same respect and urgency as physical illness in the workplace.
For years, employers have seen the wisdom of providing their employees with gym memberships, exercise space and nutritional snacks, having been schooled in the clear cost benefits of supporting physical well-being. SB 1113 would bring that same level of attention to supporting employee mental health.
In any given year, one in four Californians endures a mental health crisis, and yet mental health remains an uncomfortable and often unaddressed issue in many workplace settings. Research tells us that lack of attention comes at great cost for both employers and employees: Mental health issues are the single most expensive category of health costs for many employers, across all industries and sizes. The loss of employee productivity due to depression alone is estimated to cost U.S. companies as much as $44 billion per year.