Orange County supervisors Tuesday approved millions of dollars in spending on mental health and homeless services as a group of transients moved off the Santa Ana riverbed encampment to an Anaheim hotel prepared to leave their county-arranged shelter.
The approximately 30 transients will conclude their Baymont hotel stay this week. Most do not qualify for mental health services and some have refused further services.
“Mental Health Services Act funding can only be used for Mental Health Services Act patients,” Supervisor Shawn Nelson told City News Service. “They did not qualify. They’ve been assessed (by social workers), and they did not qualify. They’ve been offered other alternatives, but they don’t want them. But they can’t stay (at the hotel).”
Board of Supervisors Chairman Andrew Do said none of the transients have been denied further help.
“Any insinuation the county doesn’t provide services to people who qualify are patently untrue,” Do said. “This whole process has been overseen by counsel who represents the homeless as well as the close scrutiny of a federal judge, so any idea that we would not provide services to needy residents is unfounded.”
The transients are being offered shelter elsewhere in the county as officials work to get them into longer-term housing, Do and Nelson said.
The board approved spending on several initiatives Tuesday intended to help the mentally ill and homeless, Do and Nelson said.
“We’re expanding mental health counselors,” Nelson said. “Even in the jails, we’re expanding interaction with people before they’re even released… We’re digging deep to rally expand this network and respond to the cries of help for mental illness — to get ahead of some of this stuff. We’re trying to solve the problem.”
The board voted to spend $5.6 million for counseling of soon-to-be-released jail inmates, Do said. The board also approved spending $16 million for residents addicted to opioids, he added.
The board also voted to approve $4.5 million in mental health funding for 48 new beds for transients struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues.
Nonprofits Grandma’s House of Hope and Friendship Shelter have been hired over the next three years to provide services to transients and families who need mental health care and substance abuse treatments.