Sacramento County signs $26M contract to combat homelessness

Tiny houses and trailers await a Sacramento homeless shelter Jan. 5 in North Sacramento. Sacramento County on Tuesday approved $26 million through the Behavioral Health Bridge Housing program to address the housing needs of homeless people with severe behavioral health issues.

Sacramento Bee File

This week, Sacramento County approved a $26 million contract with Behavioral Health Bridge Housing that will provide services and resources to homeless people with mental health issues.

According to the program’s website, Behavioral Health Bridge Housing aims to address the urgent housing needs of homeless individuals who have significant mental health issues, including serious mental illness and substance use disorders.

The contract with Sacramento County is funded through the California Department of Health Services.

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The program is expected to hire new staff and expand infrastructure by January 2025.

Sacramento County Health Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Zelidon said the program meets the needs of homeless people identified by the Homeless Engagement and Response Team.

“The program does not limit eligibility to specific diagnoses,” Zelidon said. “Instead, it is open to individuals with any mental health diagnosis combined with a significant impairment in daily functioning or a substance use diagnosis.

“A serious behavioral health disorder encompasses a range of diagnoses that go beyond psychosis, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. It encompasses any mental health disorder that significantly impairs a person’s ability to function in daily life. This can range from severe depression and anxiety to more complex conditions that include psychosis.”

She added that the funds will allow for comprehensive support such as safe temporary housing, mental health services and addiction treatment tailored to the needs of each participant.

“The program prioritizes Care Court clients, which serves individuals diagnosed with psychosis spectrum conditions,” Zelidon said. “This focus ensures that individuals with the most severe and persistent mental health issues receive the intensive support they need to stabilize and transition into more permanent housing solutions.”

The aim of the programme is to provide a bridge to long-term housing through a combination of immediate, short-term temporary housing and supportive services.

“We believe the BHBH program will have a significant impact in supporting some of our most vulnerable community members by providing a path to recovery and stabilization,” Zelidon said. “Sacramento County is committed to providing the best care possible to the greatest number of people possible.”

The agreement with Behavioral Health Bridge Housing was reached as part of the consent agenda of Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting and is expected to last through June 2027.

Marcus D. Smith is a reporter for The Sacramento Bee based in Elk Grove. He joined The Bee in 2020, covering black communities for Equity Lab. Before The Bee, Smith covered high school sports for the Citrus Heights Sentinel. He earned a degree in journalism from Texas Southern University.