Darrell Steinberg, Sacramento’s mayor, co-chair of Governor Gavin Newsom’s Homeless and Supportive Housing Advisory Task Force, and co-author of the seminal Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), visited San Bernardino County last week. The visit provided an opportunity for Steinberg to hear from residents and experience first-hand how the county’s Behavioral Health’s (DBH) MHSA-funded programs and services have helped lift people out of homelessness, poverty and addiction. His visit was part of his goal to tour different counties around the state to observe best practices and strategies related to homelessness and behavioral heal prevention, diversion and intervention. Steinberg hopes to use the information he gathers, coupled with input received from local governments and constituents, to inform the state’s work on homelessness and its mental health system. During his visit, Steinberg toured a MHSA-funded recreational vehicle transformed into a mobile health clinic providing physical and behavioral health care, often to those who are homeless. He also visited a Transitional Age Youth Center to speak with formerly homeless youth who, through support from MHSA-funded programs, accessed behavioral health treatment and supportive housing and as a result, are now thriving. While in San Bernardino County he also visited a crisis residential and stabilization treatment center, a supportive housing project and participated in a roundtable discussion with community leaders and partners. “As the author of the Mental Health Services Act, it was incredibly rewarding to see how successfully San Bernardino County is deploying these critical resources,” Steinberg said. “Addressing unsheltered homelessness must be a top priority for local governments across our state, and San Bernardino programs are a model for other jurisdictions to utilize MHSA to address the crisis.” Also commenting on the visit DBH Director Veronica Kelley shared, “MHSA disrupted the status quo surrounding behavioral health care in our state and allowed behavioral health providers like DBH to expand our service delivery model to include preventive and supportive services to address homelessness in persons living with a debilitating mental illness, which has significantly changed the trajectory of this disease.” She concluded, “DBH is thankful for leaders like Mayor Steinberg who are passionate about the needs of some of the most vulnerable people in our community and willing to speak on and work towards creating a world where everyone is able to achieve optimum wellness.” Since MHSA was implemented in 2005 it has enabled DBH to house more than 600 people and expanded preventative services to over 150,000 additional people each year.
Header Photo: Darrell Steinberg and Department of Behavioral Health Director Veronica Kelly (Courtesy San Bernardino County)