Board of Supervisors to vote on $20 million for mentally ill veterans

TGGF’s WWII & Vietnam War Veterans in NYC for ANZAC 100th Anniversary Commemoration events. Photo by John Reidy, The Greatest Generations Foundation

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will be voting Tuesday on a motion to allocate $20 million to help mentally ill veterans experiencing homelessness.

The motion, authored by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Kathryn Barger, incorporates money into the next fiscal year budget to establish a ‘veteran peer access network’ to help veterans with mental illness. The vote will be on authorizing the county’s Community Development Commission to accept the allocated funds to help the network.

The network would enable veterans to help fellow veterans access multiple services related to  substance abuse treatment, education, benefits and housing services.

The motion was first proposed at the Feb. 6 meeting, said Erick Matos, Barger’s health deputy. Thereafter, the county CEO and various health agencies worked with veterans groups and the Department of Military and Veteran Affairs to begin tackling the issue.

The supervisors tasked the Department of Mental Health to identify potential funding sources that would allocate $20 million towards housing resources.

Of that $20 million, $15 million was to create new affordable and permanent supportive housing units for veterans experiencing homelessness and mental health issues, and $5 million for housing resources to access existing housing through the veteran peer network, according to county documents.

“When we’ve been dealing with the homeless population specifically, there’s a lot of interactions that would benefit from having a peer to peer interaction,” Matos said. “Specifically with veteran groups, it’s been extraordinarily successful in relation to the veterans and the things they go through. When we’re looking at that, that’s the motivator to capitalize on the peer to peer interaction that ultimately results in better outcomes for these folks experiencing homelessness.”

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