The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to create a “village” of services for homeless individuals and others in need on the LAC+USC Medical Center campus.
Supervisor Hilda Solis championed what she dubbed a “Restorative Care Village” for the county’s most vulnerable populations.
“This is not business as usual,” Solis said. “This is community first.”
Noting that poverty, health, unemployment and homelessness are interrelated, Solis said the site would include a recuperative care center and crisis residential treatment program with at least 100 beds each, as well as a full scope of psychiatric and support services. Job training and other employment resources are also planned.
“Tackling the problems one at a time has not been effective,” Solis said in her motion, co-authored by Supervisor Kathryn Barger.
Those coming out of county jails or juvenile probation are often in need of treatment as they work on getting back on their feet in the community and the village would also serve those needs, said the county’s deputy director of community health.
The concept is to get services to people along a continuum of care, “whether that’s in a residential-type setting with enhanced services or … permanent supportive housing or affordable housing with services such as job training and other outpatient clinical services,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly.
Dr. Jonathan Sherin, who heads the county’s Department of Mental Health, called it a game-changer for “certain folks who have multiple challenges that will take a long time to recover and to reintegrate” offering them “a much better opportunity than they will have if they’re embedded in communities, if they become isolated.”
During Sherin’s comments, a group of protesters, some dressed in Halloween garb, brought the meeting to a temporary halt. Supervisor Mark Ridley- Thomas offered one of the protesters access to a microphone, but as the yelling continued and no one took the floor, he called for a recess.
The room was cleared and the group, including members of the Youth Justice Coalition, reassembled outside where they spoke out against plans to rebuild Men’s Central Jail and a women’s jail in Lancaster, advocating instead for the kind of community services that would be offered by the Restorative Care Village.
When the board meeting resumed, other community organizers and advocates for the homeless offered their support for the plan.
LAC+USC’s chief medical officer said the new facility would free up acute care beds in addition to getting individuals the type of care they need.
“As of Friday, there were 168 patients hospitalized at our hospital who were trapped. Who no longer needed to be in acute care beds, but we had no place to send them,” Dr. Brad Spellberg said. “All of them would be able to access the resources of the Restorative Village. That’s one half of the adult ward beds in our hospital being occupied by patients who don’t need acute care.”
Spellberg was enthusiastic about partnering with the county.
“I am proud of the access to world-class integrated health delivery available at LAC+USC, and the launch of this project helps ensure that we are continuing to benefit and support the local community,” he said.
The board also directed its finance team to look at other sites where such centers could be built.
–City News Service