Santa Cruz Good Times

Sunday
Dec 21st
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Speaking To The Voiceless

news Homeless3Local governments ramp up outreach to mentally ill

Some people are too troubled to help themselves. This scenario played out tragically when a homeless man with a history of mental illness murdered local business owner Shannon Collins near Downtown Santa Cruz in early May. The incident pushed the perpetually simmering topic of homeless issues to the front of Santa Cruz politics, with groups including Take Back Santa Cruz demanding the city do something about what they see as an unaddressed safety issue.

The result was a package of proposals put forth by the Homeless Services Center and members of the Santa Cruz City Council. One proposal in the batch called for increasing mental health outreach in the downtown area. While he doesn't think it could stop a random, tragic killing like the one that ended Collins’ life, Mayor Don Lane hopes this sort of outreach will reduce what he calls “nuisance crimes.” On June 26, the city council increased mental health outreach funding to $80,000 from $75,000. Although that is only a 7 percent jump, the amount is significant because the city is now picking up the entire tab, which was previously paid for by redevelopment funds until Gov. Jerry Brown abolished those agencies statewide in 2011.
Cash from the city will be coupled with boosted mental health spending the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors also approved at the end of last month. The board hiked funding to $275,000, which will help beef up staffing on two teams devoted to addressing mental health issues on the streets.

The Maintaining Ongoing Stability through Treatment (MOST) team program has undertaken this mission since 2007 and is core to the city and county’s recently ramped-up efforts to engage homeless people who are repeat offenders and could benefit from an evaluation or direction to help. The team has four members and is largely funded by the county. MOST provides “rapid response to calls for mental health support and crisis intervention” when the Santa Cruz Police Department is called out to a situation involving a homeless person, according to city documents.

The program will have the biggest impact on crimes such as theft, public intoxication and vandalism, says Lane. “This is where we can take repeat offenders [living on the street] and refer them to doing something more productive,” he says.
The plethora of services available in the county for people trying to obtain shelter, food, or medical and/or counseling services can be daunting even for someone with all their wits about them, so giving a list of how to find help to someone with mental health issues doesn't always do the trick. This is where the Downtown Outreach Workers (DOW)—and the fact that the city’s funding bump will pay for an additional one—comes in. While MOST focuses where police are already involved, the DOWs try to bring hope to even less-noticed people. (Staying out of trouble with the law does not guarantee a homeless person is more comfortable in their surroundings, after all.) DOWs approach people they see living in the downtown area and start by introducing themselves, and, in most cases they describe services that could help the individual’s circumstances. With an extra staff member to carry out this work, the existing one-person team will be able to do more in-depth follow-ups with clients.
“These people's situation is not going to get better immediately on their own,” says Lane. “The DOW can point them in the right direction, but now they will be able to stay more regularly in touch with them through the process.”
The services they are connected with range from counseling to places to obtain food. But others are in need of bus tickets home, rides to the hospital for prenatal care or information on how to get food stamps (now CalFresh) after they give birth, according to Pam Rogers, acute services manager at Santa Cruz County Adult Mental Health Services.

There are, however, limits to the programs, says Rogers, explaining that some homeless people refuse to work with DOWs for a variety of reasons ranging from their type of mental health issue to substance abuse problems they don't want to face.
“The issue continues to be individuals not wanting to participate in services such as rehabilitation,” Rogers says. “That is where the finesse of the DOW comes in, and a person on the streets day to day is more likely to be beaten down enough to accept the help.”

Comments (3)Add Comment
...
written by Don Honda, July 15, 2012
And, before anyone starts mentioning that Reagan was responsible for putting mentally ill people on the street, making them homeless: Google Lanterman-Petris-Short Act (LPS), a bi-partisan effort. LPS and lawsuits ended the involuntary commitment of people to mental hospitals, not Reagan.
...
written by Don Honda, July 12, 2012
Is anyone else confused? Is Don Lane doing a flip/flop? Why aren't the three Council members named (Robinson, Bryant, Coonerty) who initiated these proposals while Lane gets the mention? Lane and Beiers (HSC Board Members) were noticeably very quiet on these same issues at the time, then spoke out against them as targeting the "homeless". Now, Lane is carrying the flag and waving it, including "bus tickets" home. It must re-election time.
...
written by John E. Colby, July 10, 2012
I began representing/advocating for about six severely disabled homeless people in June 2012. Many have severe emotional disabilities. Why has the City of Santa Cruz, even Mayor Don Lane, and the County of Santa Cruz been uncooperative in helping me advocate for these emotionally disabled chronically homeless people?

Why have the City and County of Santa Cruz been frustrating my efforts while they increase funding for their own mental health outreach?

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Is This a Dream?

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Stocking Stuffers

The men behind the women of the Kinsey Sicks Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet explain their own special brand of ‘dragtivism,’ and their holiday show at the Rio
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Tramonti Pizza

Why there’s no such thing as too much Italian food in Seabright

 

Guitar or surfboard?

Guitar. The closest thing I ever came to surfing was sliding down a rock hill. Charlie Tweddle, Santa Cruz, Hats and Music

 

Fortino Winery’s Intriguing Charbono

At the opening celebration of the new Santa Clara Wine Trail in August, one of the wineries we visited was Fortino. This is where I first tasted their intriguing estate-grown Charbono—a varietal that is one of the rarest in California, with only 80 acres grown statewide.

 

Beyond the Jar

How Tabitha Stroup has built her rapidly expanding jam empire