Chairman Andrew Do and Vice Chairman Shawn Nelson directed the Orange County Health Care Agency to use $15 million of available unspent Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) funds for mental health housing projects. This funding is aimed at increasing the number of mental health housing units available in Orange County to house chronically homeless individuals with severe mental illnesses.
The directive was introduced by Chairman Andrew Do and seconded by Vice Chairman Shawn Nelson, both of whom have worked collaboratively to bring this to the Board of Supervisors. The Board approved the motion unanimously. This additional funding will be critical in completing future projects for MHSA Housing.
“One of my first initiatives as Chair is ensuring we are using existing funding resources, such as MHSA, to address the lack of mental health and permanent supportive housing to reduce the number of people suffering from homelessness here in Orange County,” said Chairman Do. “Vice Chair Nelson and I have been collaborating to find creative, effective, and actionable ways to address this pressing issue at the nexus of mental health and homelessness. I’m excited we were able to secure this additional funding so that we will have more housing stock to combat chronic homelessness.”
The new directive will be brought back to the Board of Supervisors in Spring of 2018 for final approval.
In addition, the Santa Ana Veteran’s Village and Aqua Projects, both Special Needs Housing Projects (SNHP) in Santa Ana, were allocated $5 million in MHSA funding. These permanent supportive housing projects will serve those with a severe and persistent mental illness who are homeless or at risk of being homeless. A total of 20 units of the Santa Ana Veterans Village will be funded by this allocation, along with nine units at the Aqua Project. Both projects seek to reduce homelessness, reduce incarcerations, reduce hospitalizations, and increase vocational, educational, and employment activities as outcomes for their residents.
“The Santa Ana Veterans Village and the Aqua Project are both great examples of the County continuing to build on our successes,” said Chairman Do. “Constant and consistent progress is necessary to address an issue with such magnitude and importance as homelessness.”
Both the new $14.5 million funding directive and the two permanent supportive housing projects in Santa Ana are part of the Board of Supervisor’s commitment to finding compassionate and effective solutions to homelessness in Orange County. The action taken by the Board is a critical step in continuing to build the system of care.
This comes on the heels of the County’s approval to purchase an office building in the City of Orange to be used as a Crisis Stabilization Unit and to administer additional behavioral health services in order to further address homelessness.