The individuals experiencing mental health challenges and isolation in housing facilities thrive with our art intervention workshops. Partnering with the Office of Diversion and Reentry has given us the opportunity to expand our impact; creating community.
The Office of Diversion and Reentry (ODR) was created by the Board of Supervisors in September 2015 to develop and implement county-wide criminal justice diversion for persons with mental and/or substance use disorders and to provide reentry support services. The goals of ODR include reducing the number of mentally ill inmates in the Los Angeles County Jails, reducing recidivism, and improving the health outcomes of justice involved populations who have the most serious underlying health needs.
The Office of Diversion and Reentry (ODR) Housing program is a permanent supportive housing program to serve individuals who are homeless, have a mental health disorder, and who are incarcerated in the Los Angeles County Jail. The program is offered to both the sentenced population and pretrial defendants who have criminal felony cases through a partnership with the Superior Court Department 44 and Compton Department 3. These successful pilots will serve as model for future diversion efforts in other court jurisdictions. For pretrial defendants, the ODR pretrial program attempts to resolve criminal felony cases early and divert defendants into ODR Housing with a grant of probation. The program offers defendants a motivating opportunity to actively participate in their treatment and to remain out of custody in order to maintain their housing. The intervention consists of three components: pre-release jail in-reach services, enhanced treatment efforts (additional clinical assessments and immediate initiation of medications, as indicated), and immediate interim housing upon release from jail in anticipation of permanent supportive housing. Clients in the ODR Housing program are assigned an Intensive Case Management Services provider who works with the client as they transition from custody to community. The Intensive Case Management Services providers serve as the core point of contact for the client’s medical, mental health, and other supportive services. Permanent supportive housing, a key component of the program, will be provided through the DHS’s Flexible Housing Subsidy Pool (FHSP). The FHSP program is operated by Brilliant Corners and provides housing location services, ongoing rental subsidy payments, and housing retention services.
This month, the Department of Mental Health expanded Full Service Partnership (FSP) slot capacity by 300 forensic slots. ODR will work with DMH to identify and refer clients in need of FSP level of care, namely from the ODR Housing program. These new FSP slots will also serve MIST clients, those leaving the jails, and individuals in the criminal justice reentry community. These 300 slots are funded by DMH. Another FSP expansion is planned and ODR funding will be utilized as needed to increase service capacity.
Other County partners include the Department of Public Health, Sheriff’s Department, Probation Department, Public Defender, Alternate Public Defender, and the District Attorney. The Superior Court plays an important role in the development and implementation of the ODR Housing program. Through the leadership of Supervising Judges James Brandlin, Scott Gordon, and Sam Ohta, the ODR Housing program has expanded rapidly. Since the program launch in August 2016, over 1,300 clients have been served by the ODR Housing program. The original goal of the program was to provide 200 units of permanent supportive housing per year with a goal of 1,000 units over five years. However, due to the high referral volume and client need, the number has been increased to 500 per year. In order to fund the program for 5 years for a total of 2,500 units, $125 million in initial onetime ODR funding is being set aside in a Housing Trust Fund.