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Newsom touts latest engagement with mentally ill homeless population

Gavin Newsom

Gov. Gavin Newsom this week visited the site of a future behavioral health and transitional housing facility near Skid Row in Downtown Los Angeles County to highlight the state’s $3 billion investment in behavioral health infrastructure, housing and supportive services.

Newsom said facilities like the one being developed in L.A. County–which received about $12.8 million from the county and $15 million from the State–is “exactly what the state of California needs to be doing a lot more of.”

The facility will offer housing to people who have barriers securing shelter at other facilities, under a system that Newsom said needed to be Reimagined.

“You’ve got to meet people where they are, and this program does all of that and more,” Newsom said.

The facility will have 176 beds and will allow residents who have ongoing substance abuse issues, mental illnesses and pets, according to Luana Murphy of Exodus Recovery, which is operating the facility.

“If they are drunk, you let them in. If they have mental illness, you let them in. If they have a Rottweiler, you let them in. If they have a cat, you let them in. I drew the line at snakes,” she said.

Newsom spoke from the facility Monday to highlight the state’s historic $3 billion investment in behavioral health housing and services. He said the funds would allow the state “to rebuild our behavioral health system, to invest in infrastructure, invest in the human capital and programming like Exodus and others to get serious about the issue of mental health, to get serious about those that are self-medicating with drugs or alcohol addictions.”

Newsom announced Monday that about $1.1 billion is available for cities, counties, tribal governments and nonprofits to apply for with projects that are ready to launch by 2024.

“We want projects that have been in the works, we want these dollars to be catalytic to get these projects moving forward,” the governor said.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly Mitchell praised the facility for eliminating housing barriers for some Angelenos, saying it would bring “housing and care” to people who need it.

“This investment allows us to better serve our fellow Angelenos and Californians experiencing homelessness and health crises that urgently need housing and care. And it’s the combination of those two things that this model is really going to bring to bear,” Mitchell said. “If you’re in crisis, the last thing you want is a bureaucratic-oriented response.”