Five cities seek assistance from San Diego homelessness program
Published - 04/01/15 - 11:14 AM | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Serial Inebriate Program, developed by San Diego-based Mental Health Systems and the San Diego Police Department to address the issue of chronic homelessness, was recently tapped to help the cities of San Francisco, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Jersey City, N.J. and Billings, Mont. develop strategies to better manage the needs of the homeless population.

“Our clients go from sleeping the streets to sweeping up the streets,” said program manager Deni McLagan. “The methods we employ to break the cycle of homelessness have been proven time and time again. We’re encouraged that other cities across the country are taking an interest in mirroring the Serial Inebriate Program and proactively addressing this important issue.”

The program was developed in partnership with San Diego law enforcement, emergency medical services, hospitals and courts. It is designed to provide a cost-effective solution to the “revolving door” practices commonly used to deal with chronic homeless alcoholics.

“We are happy to partner with Mental Health Systems to address the problems in dealing with chronic alcoholism,” said San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman. “The long-term solutions they provide have proven to be effective and have a positive impact on the community we so proudly serve.”

The program has resulted in a 54 percent reduction in emergency medical services among the region’s homeless population and a saving of more than $70,000 per month in health care costs, according to San Diego State University's Institute for Public Health.

Mental Health Systems shares its experiences of success in dealing with this segment of the population from other cities. Its 25 Cities Initiative has fueled interest in solving the issues of chronic homelessness. Led by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the program focuses on 25 communities, including San Diego, and seeks to solve the issue to veteran homelessness.

“I’ve always told our clients,” McLagan said, “if you aren’t totally satisfied with our services, we will cheerfully refund your misery. Thankfully, we haven’t had to give too many refunds, We hope the interest among other cities continues, and we will, of course, work with them on tackling the issue of chronic homelessness.”

Mental Health Systems is a nonprofit organization founded in 1978 to provide behavioral health and drug and alcohol recovery services. It operates more than 80 community-based programs throughout California.

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