Steinberg Institute

2016 Legislative Package

A $2 billion infusion for homeless services

Perhaps the most stunning achievement of the 2015-16 session was passage of the “No Place Like Home” budget initiative. With this historic legislation, the Steinberg Institute and a bipartisan coalition of partners secured $2 billion for permanent supportive housing and services for homeless people living with serious mental illness.

An estimated one-third of Californians living on the streets suffer with untreated mental illness. Traditionally, they have spiraled through a disabling and often deadly cycle, from the streets to emergency rooms and jail, absorbing a huge proportion of public resources. “No Place Like Home” will break that cycle, connecting this population with “whatever it takes” services that assist with housing, treatment, training and employment.

The state is funding the effort by re-purposing a percentage of funds generated by the 2004 Mental Health Services Act to leverage a $2 billion revenue bond and billions of dollars from local, state, and federal funds.

Doing right by foster youth

The 2016 passage of Assembly Bill 1299 by Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, D-Los Angeles, closed a 20-year gap in mental health services for foster youth. Before our legislation, foster youth who moved between counties often had to wait months to access mental health services. Unlike medical care for their physical health, the mental health services did not automatically transfer. AB 1299 closed that loophole, creating immediate transfer of services and payment to ensure that these vulnerable young people receive an uninterrupted continuum of care.

Weaving a stronger safety net

We ushered through legislation that strengthened the safety net for students, homeless veterans and people encountering law enforcement while in the grips of mental crisis. Among the victories:

  • A measure requiring all school districts that serve students in grades 7 to 12 to adopt suicide-prevention policies that address the needs of high-risk groups.
  • Bills requiring law enforcement officers and their trainers to receive much-needed additional instruction in how to de-escalate an encounter with a person suffering from a mental illness, intellectual disability or substance use disorder.
  • A bill mandating an evaluation to ensure that entities receiving funds through the Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Act are using them in the most effective manner possible to prevent our nation’s military veterans from becoming homeless and to aid impoverished veterans already living on the streets.

Our 2016 Legislation Signed into Law

AB 168 – (Maienschein): Mental Health: Community-Based Services
This bill requires the Department of Health Care Services to give the Legislature a detailed update on funding and outcomes if California were selected to participate in a special federal program designed to improve access to community mental health and substance abuse treatment services.

AB 847 – (Mullin): Community Behavioral Health Clinics
This bill requires the Department of Health Care Services to submit a proposal to the federal government seeking selection to participate in a special program designed to improve access to community mental health and substance use treatment services.

AB 1299 (Ridley-Thomas) – Transfer of Care: Foster Youth
This bill closes a 20-year gap in care for tens of thousands of foster youth in California. It requires the Department of Health Care Services to ensure that mental health services follow foster children when they move between counties.

AB 1618 – (Committee on Budget) – No Place Like Home
AB 1618 marks an historic effort to create permanent supportive housing for people living with serious mental illness who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.  This measure draws on a small percentage of funds from the 2004 Mental Health Services Act to leverage a $2 billion revenue bond and billions of additional dollars from other local, state, and federal funds.

AB 2246 – (O’Donnell): Student Suicide-Prevention Policies
This bill requires local school districts that serve students in grades 7 to 12 to adopt suicide-prevention policies that address the needs of high-risk groups.

SB 884 – (Beall): Student Mental Health Reporting Standards
This bill requires creation of audit procedures to determine whether funds that local school districts receive to provide mental health services to students with individualized education programs (IEPs) are being used for the intended purpose.

Legislative Efforts We Continue to Push

The Steinberg Institute sponsored or supported multiple other measures in 2016 that it continues to press through legislation and policy efforts. This includes:

  • Expand programs for early detection, prevention and intervention of mental illness in children and youth.
  • Promote an integrated approach to health care that encompasses both brain and body health.
  • Ensure student access to mental health services on all public college campuses in California
  • Reform sentencing laws to give judges more discretion for appropriate sentencing of offenders living with mental illness.
  • Streamline procedures to locate available psychiatric beds for treatment of people in severe mental health crisis.

Return to our Legislative Priorities overview.

Find our full 2017 Legislative Package here.

Find our full 2015 Legislative Package here.