Santa Monica’s homeless outreach teams may continue to operate for at least two years with more than $2 million in new funding.
The Homeless Multidisciplinary Street Team (HMST) focuses on a small population of chronically homeless individuals, while the County, City, Community Team (C3 Team) engages with thousands of people in downtown Santa Monica.
On Tuesday, the City Council will vote whether to allocate $1.2 million to HMST over the next two years and almost $900,000 to support and expand the C3 Team.
The new funding would bring HMST’s five-year contract to no more than $2.85 million and the C3 Team’s three-year contract to $2 million.
Both teams link individuals to service providers that will assist them on a path to get off the streets and into permanent housing, according to the staff report on the council item.
“In cooperation with law enforcement, these teams also contribute to making our public spaces safer, healthier and more accessible to all by working to address and prevent the anti-social behaviors that can accompany mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse and other conditions among those who are living on our streets,” the report said.
The People Concern, a homeless services nonprofit, operates HMST on a $600,000 annual budget, which is funded by the city of Santa Monica and grants from Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.
Since the program’s launch in 2016, a team of eight specialists and a part-time program director have worked with 37 people with serious medical, substance abuse, mental health and behavioral challenges, transitioning 25 into interim housing and 19 ultimately into permanent housing.
The population the team works with has been homeless for 10 years on average and its median age is 50.
A Rand Corporation study on the program found that those individuals had fewer interactions with police officers, firefighters and emergency room doctors after HMST began working with them.
While the cost of HMST is about $48,000 annually per client, the lower demand for expensive city services offset between 17 percent and 43 percent of the cost to fund the team, the study found.
The C3 Team is operated by the County Department of Health Services on an annual budget of $400,000 to $500,000. Since 2017, three outreach workers have made contact with 1,600 individuals experiencing homelessness in downtown Santa Monica. The team has provided 200 medical services and connected 61 individuals to mental health services.
Between 2018 and 2019, downtown’s homeless population shrank by 19%, according to the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count. The city’s overall homeless population grew 3% that year and 4% the previous year after jumping 26% in 2017.
The city is planning to expand the C3 Team, according to the report.
The City Council will meet Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall, 1685 Main St.