Sonoma County, feds launch $17M initiative to aid mentally ill homeless population

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Sonoma County in California and the federal government introduced a $17 million initiative to help the mentally ill homeless population by advancing aid programs, according to the Press Democrat.

The effort will be supported through federal and local funds. Sonoma County intends to cover half the cost of the program. The funds will be used to hire 26 employees, increase capacity at a detoxification and substance abuse facility in Santa Rosa, Calif., and expand care to more than 3,000 individuals.

The four-year initiative will work with Medi-Cal patients with serious mental illnesses, who are homeless or at risk of becoming so.

"We know a lot of the homeless people, or people who are at risk, have these behavioral health issues, and today the behavioral health system doesn't have enough capacity to serve them," said Margaret Van Vliet, executive director of Sonoma County's Community Development Commission, which is participating in the initiative. "Putting more juice in the system means we can hire more professional staff, either on the county's payroll or through contractors, so that there's more bandwidth in the system to actually get people the care they need."

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