Overlooked mental health “catastrophe:” Vanishing board-and-care-homes leave residents with few options (calmatters.org)


The housing crisis has placed those concerned about board-and-care residents with mental illness in a strange predicament: Many now find themselves advocating for facilities they consider to be of poor quality and outmoded. That’s because the alternatives they see—homelessness, incarceration, long-term placement in nursing homes or locked facilities—are worse.

About a third of homeless individuals have serious mental illness, according to the Treatment Advocacy Center, a nonprofit that advocates for expanded psychiatric services. With California’s homeless population nearing 130,000, an estimated 43,000 of them may be suffering from serious mental illness. As tent encampments proliferate, efforts to house these people have gained traction. Last fall, voters passed the No Place Like Home Act, allowing the state to borrow $2 billion to increase the supply of permanent supportive housing, which pairs affordable housing with mental health services.

Ruelas of the Steinberg Institute also would like to see a dynamic system that provides life skills and activities, not just medication, laundry and food. She thinks Progress Foundation, which offers residential treatment options in San Francisco, Napa and Sonoma, is one model to consider.

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