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Santa Monica City Council Awards Contract for Homeless Street Team
By Niki Cervantes
August 15, 2017 -- Trying to reach deeper into Santa Monica’s increasing homeless population, the City Council has approved a three-year contract of up to $1.65 million to a local nonprofit to send specialized mental health, medical and substance abuse professionals into the streets for faster intervention.
The contract for the Ocean Park Community Center (OPCC) is a modification of an earlier agreement to operate a “Homeless Multidisciplinary Street Team,” resulting in a three-year amended contract not to exceed $1.65 million.
It was among several homelessness-related agreements approved by the council on August 8.
The street team was jump-started in September and is staffed by a combination of mental health, medical, and substance abuse professionals, as well as “a peer specialist,” according to a report from the City’s Community and Cultural Services staff said.
Team members comb City street and visits parks, jails and hospitals to provide intervention for homeless individuals, staff said.
Santa Monica experienced a 26 percent jump in homelessness in 2016, with 921 homeless residents counted citywide Santa Monica -- up from 728 counted the prior year. In the count conducted for Los Angeles County, the homeless population rose by 23 percent.
Prior to the launch of Santa Monica’s street team operations, 25 homeless people in the initial cohort had been treated by Santa Monica Fire Department paramedics more than 200 times, transported to local hospitals more than 100 times and issued nearly 700 citations by Santa Monica police, the City’s report said
“The 18 individuals engaged by the (team) thus far represent a cumulative 195 years of street homelessness,” the staff report said.
To date, 17 of those clients are no longer on City streets, staff said.
As an example of the team’s ability to help in the field, the report recounted the before and after life of a man who’d been chronically homeless.
Arrested and hospitalized many times for public intoxication, the client had rejected traditional homeless outreach and mainstream services “due to the complexity of his physical and mental health and substance use disorder,” the report said.
The street team worked with City staff and the County Public Defender’s Office to arrange an alternative sentencing option.
He completed a residential alcohol treatment program, was linked to a sober living program at CLARE Foundation, employment training at Chrysalis, and a permanent housing voucher through the regional Coordinated Entry System, the report said.
“This individual is now working a full-time job in Santa Monica, and is regularly engaged in activities to promote his sobriety, mental and physical health, and permanent housing,” staff said.
The year before the team’s involvement, the homeless man had been arrested by Santa Monica four times and transported to local hospitals twice.
OPCC is tracking service and housing outcomes with the use of the City’s Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), as well as engaging a third-party evaluator to measure impact of services on clients.
“The cohort will evolve over time,” the report said. “City staff have identified additional vulnerable individuals to be added to the HMST roster to replace those who have either died or the HMST have been unable to locate."
“The contract extension would allow for an assessment of 'step down' interventions post-housing to determine how best to transition participants from HMST to other lower-intensity support services, thereby allowing the team to serve new individuals.”
In addition to awarding the amended contract to OPCC, the council accepted a grant award in the amount of $300,000 from Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl (of the Third District) for the operation of the Homeless Multidisciplinary Street Team.
It also authorized City Manager Rick Cole to negotiate and execute a Software Licensing and Professional Services Agreement with Akido Labs, a California based company, to develop “data governance polices, user licenses, creation and maintenance of data sharing platform for first responders.”
The agreement is for four years with one three-year option to renew, for a total amount not to exceed $85,000 with future year funding contingent on Council budget approval.
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