YOLO COUNTY LOOKING TO EXPAND MENTAL HEALTH, SUBSTANCE USE DISORDER SERVICES
Yolo County is working to acquire and renovate properties after obtaining two rounds of funding from a Community Services Infrastructure grant to be used as a diversionary housing project and as a residential substance abuse treatment facility.
Using a $1 million Community Services Infrastructure (CSI) grant, the county has the opportunity to purchase houses in Woodland and West Sacramento to expand access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment services.
“There’s a recognition that the county needs suitable facilities to allow for the diversion of individuals who are criminal justice involved to reintegrate them into our community and for additional residential treatment beds as we have insufficient capacity to meet our community’s current need,” said Chad Rine, interim county administrator, during last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting.
Each property will be able to serve up to five clients at a time who will be hand selected from participants in Yolo County’s mental health and addiction intervention courts, said Dan Fruchtenict, Yolo County chief probation officer. The clients will be supervised by probation and services will be provided by the Health and Human Services Agency.
“These individuals have already come a long way in their rehabilitation journey and are committed to the last steps necessary to rejoin their communities,” Fruchtenict explained. “These communities were chosen based on need and the fact that living in a community environment is critical to their success.”
According to Fruchtenict, the diversionary housing would be modeled after the already successful IGT House in Yolo County, which has been in operation since March 2018. The IGT House was purchased to assist those coming out of incarceration become “rent ready.”
To date, the IGT House has had a total of 26 eligible clients with 13 having successfully completed the program. Clients are required to follow a set of rules such as being good neighbors, adhering to curfew, zero alcohol and drug tolerance and having no guests. Reasons for not completing the program can range from an unwillingness to follow house rules or a substance abuse relapse. If an individual fails to adhere to these guidelines, they are immediately removed, Fruchtenict explained.
The timeline for implementation of the diversionary housing project was extended to November of this year to allow for community engagement efforts.
The second $1.6 million grant is being used to support efforts to purchase and renovate a property in the county to develop a substance use disorder treatment program, which will be called Ellen’s House.
“This property is different than the purpose for the probation CSI grant,” explained Ian Evans, Adult and Aging branch director. “This property is intended to serve eight individuals at any given time that have a substance use or co-occurring substance use mental health diagnosis and have been assessed and determined to need this level of care.”
The facility is to serve Yolo County justice involved individuals who will be screened and assessed using evidence-based tools. Staff is to be present at the facility 24/7 with multiple group and individual sessions occurring daily by certified, registered and licensed staff, Evans said.
The program would be operated by Yolo Wayfarer Center, who currently operates the 44-bed Walter’s House in Woodland. Walter’s House has been in operation for approximately 15 years. Evans reported that in the past three years, the house has seen 90-100% reduction in jail bed days compared to six months prior treatment and individuals saw a 100% reduction in substance use for those that successfully completed the program.
Clients also reported significant increases in their housing situation, relationships with family, school and/or work situations and the ability to manage their daily lives upon completion of the program.
“This grant was applied for because of the fact that we currently do not have enough contracted residential substance use beds within our system of care, even with utilizing contracts for out-of-county,” Evans said. “Our clients in need of this level of care often have to wait weeks, sometimes a month or two, in order to receive care given Yolo County’s current capacity.”
Additionally, there are zero detoxification beds in Yolo County. Even with the county’s contract with Sacramento for these services, it is often a challenge to get clients placed in a timely manner leading to some doing their detox in emergency room beds instead.
Staff is currently exploring the feasibility of an 11th location as the previous 10 locations fell through. The current location staff is currently exploring is located in a more rural area so that it will have very minimal neighborhood impact but would still be close enough to town that participants could have access to other services not provided on site.
The property acquisition deadline for this project is April 30, 2022. If the property is not acquired by the deadline, the county would need to return the funding to the state.
“We certainly have some challenges in these types of grants,” Rinde said. “As meaningful as the programs are behind them, part of it is that we are on a time limit by the state to be successful. The housing market, though it is starting to cool, is still very challenging. We still do have COVID constraints as well as these are staff intensive efforts for conducting these programs.”
“They are also not going to be without opposition,” Rinde continued. “Most individuals need to get familiar with the programs and understand how the county is going to operate them before they can get to the point where they either support or are ultimately neutral on these facilities entering their neighborhoods.”