On Aug. 5, Gov. Newsom outlined his plan for record investments in mental health services and behavioral health housing as part of a comprehensive approach to tackling the state’s homelessness crisis.
The governor’s plan includes a $12 billion investment over two years to confront the homelessness crisis, helping the most unwell individuals move off the streets and into housing with wrap-around services. Part of this investment includes a $3 billion behavioral health housing initiative that is expected to create 22,000 new beds and treatment slots, a component of the 42,000 new homeless housing units that will be created under the California Comeback Plan.
There are other initiatives designed to address behavioral health. Last year, Gov. Newsom signed legislation to strengthen Laura’s Law and expand funding for the treatment of substance abuse. Assembly Bill (AB) 1976 makes county participation in assisted outpatient treatment (i.e., Laura’s Law) automatic unless a county opts out. As of June 2021, a total of 31 counties in California have not opted out and will implement Laura’s Law, covering 80% of the state’s population.
AB 2265 expands the kinds of services Mental Health Services Act funds can pay for, specifically addiction treatment. In addition, the Department of Health Care Services has leveraged over $260 million in federal opioid funding to support the Medication Assisted Treatment Expansion Project, allowing easy access to opioid addiction treatment in emergency departments and hospitals, primary care clinics, drug treatment programs, jails and prisons, and other health care settings.
The governor’s plan also moves forward the California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal Program by including whole person care approaches and addressing social determinants of health to better serve California’s most vulnerable residents.