LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to ask Gov. Newsom to budget $500 million statewide for residential board-and-care facilities, which they say are otherwise in danger of closing.
Newsom is expected to present his proposed 2020 budget later this week.
The board also announced $11.7 million in county funding for the facilities that provide homes as well as meals and other support services for mentally ill or medically vulnerable residents.
Supervisors Janice Hahn and Sheila Kuehl recommended reaching out by letter to the governor.
“We are in the middle of a crisis with our board-and-cares,” Hahn said. “These vital resources are often the only thing standing between their residents and homelessness and we need all hands on deck to keep them open.”
California reimburses board-and-care facilities $35 per day for residents through their Supplemental Security Income benefits, which advocates say is not nearly enough to cover the actual cost of care.
The homes provide rooms, meals and care and in addition to staff wages, operators have to pay insurance, license fees and cover the cost of upkeep.
Thirty-nine board-and-care facilities have been forced to close their doors since 2016, Kuehl said.
“From 2016 to mid-2019, more than 1,000 board-and-care beds were lost, leaving clients at risk of becoming homeless,” Kuehl said. “Today, we are asking the state for urgently needed, one-time funding to prevent these men and women from falling into homelessness.”
The board’s goal is that funding be set aside to keep the facilities open, increase reimbursement rates and also ease regulations.
The county dollars will be used to help existing operators pay for deferred maintenance like bathroom renovations, roof improvements, installing air conditioning and replacing carpets.
“Now we need the state to step up and do its part to get our board-and-care system back on its feet,” Hahn said.
Local demand also exceeds supply. Hahn and Kuehl’s November motion estimated that 25,000 low-income Los Angeles County residents need such housing and services but only 10,400 are living in licensed facilities.
The county’s action supports the County Behavioral Health Directors Association’s request to Newsom for $500 million for board-and-care facilities.