$1.6 Billion Held in Reserve In California Counties While Advocates Say Mental Illness Treatment Lags Behind
“It is shocking to see these large reserves when we have a funding stream to address the crisis that Los Angeles and other jurisdictions are facing,” said Catherine Blakemore, executive director of Disability Rights California. In other news, The Oregonian reports on safety issues at Unity Center for Behavioral Health opened its doors in Northeast Portland.
Los Angeles Times:
With An Epidemic Of Mental Illness On The Streets, Counties Struggle To Spend Huge Cash Reserves
When California voters passed a tax on high-income residents in 2004, backers said it would make good on the state’s “failed promise” to help counties pay for the treatment of the mentally ill. After nearly 15 years, Proposition 63 — the Mental Health Services Act — has steered billions of dollars to the counties across the state. But huge sums remain unspent at a time when mental illness has become an epidemic among the homeless population. (Curwen, 8/19)
Complaints Surfaced About Unity Center Within Months Of Opening; Officials Failed To Act
The safety problems started nearly as soon as Unity Center for Behavioral Health opened its doors in Northeast Portland. Staff at the 24-7 crisis center and Multnomah County case workers almost immediately began reporting a patient sexual assault of another patient, a patient escaping, a staff member making sexual advances to a patient and other concerns. One mental health investigator for the county later reported that it appeared a patient had committed suicide using a bathroom door at the center that had been modified to prevent hanging. (Harbarger, 8/18)