Behavioral Health

head with gears

 At its December meeting the Behavioral Health Board received a report on housing from Department of Behavioral Health Director Dawan Utecht.  The Department has formed a Housing Taskforce to work on improving housing for its clients at all levels of care.  
Since Fresno County has no Emergency Housing Shelter, the Department is piloting different options to serve  clients who either are chronically homeless or temporarily homeless while awaiting appropriate placement.  It has set up a hotel/motel voucher program to house clients who have been approved for housing that is not yet ready for occupancy.  A new housing option dubbed “The Lodge” is being developed for clients while they are becoming “housing-ready.” 
Transitional housing actions include educating and supporting Board and Care operators, so that they might provide higher-level care for clients who need that type of housing and support in an unlocked setting.  Likewise, the Department is meeting with Room and Board operators to encourage, educate, and support them so that they might provide appropriate congregate living homes for clients who are able to live independently but with some structure and support.  To address the community’s concern about the poor quality 
of many Room and Board homes the Department is contracting with Independent Living Association to encourage operators to join the Association at no cost; then the Association will work with R&B operators to improve their homes, so that they may be included on a list of high quality homes to which the Department and its contractors will refer clients. 
Of course, the highest priority and most difficult to provide is Permanent Supportive Housing.  A Master Leasing program has begun to provide permanent housing for  clients who are able to live without on-site support.  The Department has toured various sites, met with developers, and contracted with Corporation for Supportive Housing to evaluate and review the quality of current permanent, supportive housing that is available in Fresno County.  The next step will be to contract with consultants to create development plans, secure properties and funding, oversee construction, provide property management, and provide supportive services.
The Board also voted to follow up on its letters to the City Council concerning alcohol licensing and to the Opioid Coalition regarding the Lock It Up Project.  Ad Hoc committees will be formed to work on these projects.
The BHB ended the year with the election of new officers and a celebration of the work done during 2017.
Editor’s Note:  Carolyn was elected Chair of the  Behavioral Health Board for 2018.

Issues referenced by this article: 
League to which this content belongs: