A major deal reached between Sacramento County and the city to invest $44 million over three years into a program focused on supporting Sacramento County’s homeless population.
Mayor Darrell Steinberg and District 1 Supervisor Phil Serna were the key players brokering the deal after months of negotiation. The two join Insight to discuss the impact of the new funding and other unique partnerships between the county and city.
[This is not an exact transcript. The text has been edited for clarity and length.]
THE CHALLENGE IN COORDINATING CITY AND COUNTY RESOURCES
PHIL SERNA: There were a number of contributing factors that enhanced the challenge over the last few months. Some of it had to do with being able to agree on what the resource base would be. We had to extract that from various sources, including executive staff at the county. We brought in the expertise of the executive director of the Mental Health Services Act oversight and accountability committee to inform the board and our partners at the city about the parameters of MHSA funding. There are different pots of money, and there's a calendar that comes with that funding for when it has to be spent.
SACRAMENTO COUNTY'S $44 MILLION MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES ACT CONTRIBUTION
PHIL SERNA: One of the things that was very important to me and my colleague Patrick Kennedy from District 2 was the fact that we wanted to look at ongoing funding past the life of the grant. It's a three year grant. The County will be the primary agency for those critical mental health services so that we can continue past the three years of the grant. That money that we appropriated on Tuesday comes with specific limitations and opportunities on how we apply those resources. We're going to be looking at the behavioral health part of this, which is substance abuse. We don't want to run afoul of what the legislation says we can do. However, we know there are so many cases where you have co-occurring mental health challenges with substance abuse challenges. That's where the intersection of the two is going to be addressed. This [chronic homeless population] is the most complicated, complex issue in front of local government, but we're thinking very deliberatively about it.
SACRAMENTO CITY'S $64 MILLION WHOLE PERSON CARE GRANT CONTRIBUTION
DARRELL STEINBERG: There will be intensive evaluation. It's the hope and the expectation that we'll be able to renew the Whole Person Care Grant, and that we'll use these three years to learn about the benefits of partnership, and what it means to transform this whole system to actually measure the number of people we're getting off the streets. The $64 million dollar grant pays for assertive outreach and the case management. But it doesn't provide for substance abuse and mental health services. The vast majority of people who are chronically homeless suffer from one or both of these issues. That's why it was essential for this partnership to come together. While we're talking about $108 million, there's more money to come. Now, the health care systems and private sector see the city and county coming together. I predict this is just the beginning.