Temporary Transitional Housing Program in works for County Behavioral Health

Having secured a lease at 411 Main St. – formerly the home of Colco Insurance – Colusa County Behavioral Health has already moved the Safe Haven Drop-In Center to the new location. In the near future, the building could also be home to a new temporary transitional housing program.

Behavioral Health Director Terry Rooney gave a presentation at last week’s board of supervisors meeting, and detailed his plans for the program, which will service individuals that are currently being sent out of the county.

“Transitional housing is very important for people in early recovery, and also very important for people coming back to the community from boarding care and IMDs (Institutions for Mental Disease), and that sort of thing,” Rooney said. “It gives the department the ability to serve those people directly and locally, and housing is a key component of that.”

Funding for the program will come from Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Housing Program funds from the California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA). Rooney said that the Colusa County Behavioral Health has $300,000 available in funds that can only be used for housing purposes. Rooney said that the program could potentially be sustainable via MediCal and MHSA funds.

“The costs allocated with this program were included in the budget, but no revenue was included… It was initially my plan to implement this program in the second half of the fiscal year, because I couldn’t see how to deploy existing staff to get it up and running early in the year,” Rooney said.

That changed when it came to Rooney’s attention that he had individuals on staff that were uniquely qualified to manage such a program, he said.

The facility will be able to accommodate a maximum of six individuals, who will be able to utilize the services of the program for up to 18 months, though the time in the program will ultimately vary from individual to individual.

Rooney said that the program would be able to service the homeless community as well, as an estimated 50 percent of the homeless population in Colusa has been deemed to be eligible for the program.

“I have been involved in mental health for approximately 30 years, and… I have come to understand that stable housing really makes mental health recovery possible… Being homeless, it’s very difficult… If you don’t know where you’re going to stay and where your next meal is coming from, it’s hard to partner and engage in recovery and to benefit from treatment,” Rooney said.

The focus of the program will be on developing self-care and life skills, and program participation will be based on consumer buy-in and sweat equity, Rooney said. The department will continue to follow program participants after leaving the program for a period of time. The program will be named for Dereck Parks, the county’s former MHSA coordinator, who died unexpectedly who passed away in March of 2014.

“The real goal of the program is to place people in independent living within the community, once they have been stabilized,” Rooney said. “The idea is that people don’t come here and stay – they come here, they get rehabilitative services, and then part of our job is to help them find suitable housing in the community.” ■

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Brian Pearson is the Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects include reporting on local government and the newly feature sports page. To contact Brian about this article, or for future articles, please email him at brian@colusacountynews.net