Councilmember Blumenfield launched the Homeless Housing and Recovery Project, an important new program that is already helping drug-addicted and mentally ill homeless people who are on the streets of the West Valley get treatment and turn their lives around. The program establishes an innovative partnership between Providence Health & Services, California and the Tarzana Treatment Centers.
Blumenfield said, “I regularly hear from constituents who are understandably very concerned about homeless people they see with obvious mental health or drug issues. Too often we see people screaming at the sky, blatantly using drugs, or worse. They are in desperate need of help and cannot be left to die on the streets. This problem also impacts our community quality of life and it is simply not acceptable to ignore this suffering. What message does it send to our children that we allow this to happen? While it has sadly become a part of everyday life in Los Angeles, we cannot normalize it, and we cannot stop trying to change it.”
It is not illegal to be homeless and we can’t force people into services even if they are readily available and in front of them. The Courts and Constitution have made that clear. Also, while law enforcement will arrest people when they are in the act of committing a crime or being an apparent danger to themselves or others, they cannot arrest someone who is simply drug addicted or mentally ill; we need to create a better avenue to get folks with severe mental or drug problems off the street and into services. Arresting our way out of this wouldn’t do anything about the underlying mental health and substance abuse issues. With finite resources as a City and with the reality that most human services falls under the purview of the County and not the City, it is imperative that we get creative about new funding sources so that is why he was happy to help create a unique public-private healthcare program like this.
Now, Providence/Cedars Tarzana has trained patient navigators in their ER ready to help homeless people who show up because of an emergency. Once the patient is stabilized and treated, the navigator attempts to connect them with services and can refer them to one of three special off-site houses where they can recover from their physical and mental trauma.
They have found that people are often more open to accepting services when approached in the ER when recovering from a low-point in their lives. This program offers first rate treatment combined with transitional housing. Once they have achieved some stability, they can be connected with services and more permanent housing. Even when folks enter the ER for an overdose they still might not enter treatment, but the program has seen very high rates of success.
This program isn’t going to end homelessness, but every person who says yes to this help, is another person whose life will be turned around and will be off the streets. And, unlike most programs that are targeted towards people who are seeking help, this program is targeted to those who are often the most service resistant and the most difficult to get off the streets. Blumenfield recently secured additional funding to grow this program. To learn more, read here.