Governor Newsom’s ‘Statewide Expert’ on homelessness visits San Bernardino County

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From left: 5th District County Supervisor Josie Gonzales, 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), and Dept. of Behavioral Health Director Veronica Kelley.
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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 this week to hear from residents and experience first-hand how San Bernardino County Behavioral Health’s (DBH) MHSA-funded programs and services have lifted people out of homelessness, poverty and addiction.

Steinberg’s visit was part of his plan to tour different counties around the state to observe best practices and strategies relating to homelessness and behavioral health prevention, diversion, and intervention. Steinberg will use the information, coupled with input received from local governments and constituents, to inform the state’s work on homelessness and its mental health system.  Just hours prior to Steinberg’s visit to the county, the Department of Health Care Services announced a new framework for Medi-Cal reform through CalAIM (CA Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal), a program seeking to leverage Medicaid to help address the challenges facing California’s most vulnerable residents, such as homelessness and behavioral health care access.

While here, Steinberg toured an MHSA-funded recreational vehicle transformed into a mobile health clinic providing physical and behavioral health care, often to those experiencing homelessness, and 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 are now thriving. His tour also included a visit to a crisis residential and stabilization treatment center, a supportive housing project, and a roundtable discussion with County leaders and community 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,” said Steinberg.  “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.”

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“San Bernardino County was honored to welcome Mayor Steinberg to our community,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Curt Hagman. “We work hard as a county to improve the quality of life of our residents and were pleased to have the opportunity to showcase these efforts and engage in discussion about the success stories as a result of MHSA funding.”

“I was proud to demonstrate to Mayor Steinberg the great programs and projects our county is implementing thanks to the MHSA funding we receive,” said Fifth District Supervisor Josie Gonzales, who chairs the San Bernardino County Interagency Council on Homelessness. “I am hopeful that the Task Force will continue working with local jurisdictions to ensure they have the flexibility to continue to delivery vital services specific to needs of our chronically homeless population.”

“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,” said DBH Director Veronica Kelley. “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 its inception in 2005, MHSA funding has allowed DBH to house over 600 people and expand preventative services to over 150,000 additional people annually.

Steinberg is the founder of Steinberg Institute and is the original co-author of Proposition 63 (also known as the MHSA), a voter-approved proposition intended to reduce the long-term adverse impact on individuals, families and state and local budgets resulting from untreated serious mental illness. Governor Newsom announced Steinberg’s role as co-chair of the Homeless and Supportive Housing Advisory Task Force on May 21, 2019 and named him a ‘statewide expert’ on homelessness July 16, 2019.

In July, Dr. Thomas lnsel, the internationally-renowned neuroscientist and psychiatrist appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom to be his special advisor on mental health also visited San Bernardino County.

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