The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors took steps Tuesday to close a gap in the mental health safety net that could otherwise result in more mentally ill individuals living on the street.

Individuals with mental health issues who are lucky enough to find support in 24-hour board-and-care homes are being forced out as facilities close due to rising costs, often without enough time to avoid becoming homeless, Supervisor Hilda Solis said.

“Board-and-care homes serve as a safety net for low-income individuals with complex mental health needs. These homes are often in residential communities, offering people opportunities to recover in a non-institutional setting.” Solis said. “Sadly, this precious resource is vanishing at an alarming rate, and each closure means someone will lose a home.”

Solis recommended coordinating with the relevant state licensing agency to ensure local mental health authorities are alerted before a board-and-care home shuts down. She noted that one recently shuttered South Gate board-and-care facility was home to 45 residents.

The residential facilities fill a need when individuals are discharged from a psychiatric hospital or from the criminal justice system, providing low-income residents with medication management, meals and laundry service, daily supervision and a sense of community, Solis said.

Some residents live there for several years and are traumatized when forced to suddenly relocate. If alerted in time, county mental health professionals can connect recently displaced residents with the resources they need, Solis said.

The board also directed various county departments to coordinate on a plan to provide housing, mental health treatment and substance abuse treatment for any residents affected by closures.

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