The Colusa County Department of Behavioral Health, Safe Haven is opening a new transitional home for the county’s homeless population and for individuals returning to the community from boarding care and IMDs (Institutions for Mental Disease).
The transitional housing facility, currently in the development phase, was toured by visitors during Safe Haven’s open house and relocation celebration last Wednesday. Transitional Housing coordinator and case manager Chantelle Estess provided tours and discussed the plan to visitors.
“We will be able to accommodate six people,” said Estess. “There are three rooms that will contain two beds each.”
Estess commented that the program will be co-ed and will be based on the individuals’ needs.
“We will have rules and everyone will need to abide by those rules to remain in the program,” said Estess. “We want to make them feel like they are part of a family while they are on their transition from the streets, to our program, and into their own home.”
Estess added that once the individual has completed the program successfully, there are grant programs available to assist the individual in obtaining their own place.
Additionally, upon leaving the facility, the individual will have a bed of their own.
“Most of the individuals who will come through our door, most likely haven’t had a bed of their own in a long time. The bed that the individual receives when they arrive will be theirs, even when they transition outside of the facility,” said Estess. The program is funded through a “Discover Ownership” grant through HUD (Housing and Urban Development), she said.
The Colusa County Transitional Housing Program will be named “Parks Place” for Dereck Parks, the county’s former MHSA coordinator, who died unexpectedly in March of 2014.
Funding for the Colusa County Transitional Housing program will come from Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Housing Program funds from the California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA). Behavioral Health Director Terry Rooney said that the Colusa County Behavioral Health has $300,000 available in funds that can only be used for housing purposes and 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.
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.
Currently the Transitional Housing Facility is undergoing renovations to accommodate the program.
“We are remodeling the bathrooms, installing a kitchen and chair lift, and overall updates to provide the necessary tools and facilities for the program,” said Estess.
Safehaven Drop-in Center is located at 411 Main Street in Colusa.