In an effort to preserve and strengthen Adult Residential Facilities (ARFs) and Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFEs), Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health has awarded a two-year contract to the National Alliance on Mental Illness Greater Los Angeles County (NAMI GLAC) to launch the Licensed Adult Residential Care Association (LARCA) to represent and advocate for its membership. According to the California Department of Social Services, many ARFs have closed due to increasing costs and lack of appropriate funding. Los Angeles has lost 24% of its ARFs and 37% of its RCFEs between 2015 and March 2020.

“The Board and Care system is a specialized type of permanent housing for individuals with disabilities, including those with behavioral health challenges. Because existing funding structures no longer provide adequate support for Board and Care facilities, they are disappearing at an alarming rate across L.A. County,” said Dr. Jonathan Sherin, M.D., Ph.D., Director of L.A. County Department of Mental Health. “The Department of Mental Health, with unprecedented support from the Board of Supervisors and from Supervisor Janice Hahn in particular, is laser-focused on reforming Board and Care funding mechanisms in order to not only rescue and improve the conditions of the existing Board and Care network but also to expand the network as part of combating homelessness as well as mass incarceration of individuals with mental illness. In particular, L.A. County is asking the Federal government to dramatically increase social security reimbursement for Board and Care or to allow the use of Section 8 vouchers for Board and Care beds, either of which could accomplish our goals.”

This Association will stabilize, sustain, and improve the quality of permanent housing for individuals with serious mental illness (SMI), from formerly homeless individuals to seniors, as well as individuals with other disabilities in Los Angeles County who need daily support.

NAMI GLAC’s Executive Director Traute Winters states, “forming this Association will allow us to collectively advocate on behalf of our most vulnerable citizens and ensure that facilities who serve low income and homeless individuals with serious mental illness have access to relevant education and training, up-to-date policies and regulations, as well as a voice here in Los Angeles County and Sacramento.” She added, “housing is a great need in Los Angeles County and ensuring that facilities providing these services are supported is a critical part of the solution.”

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Submitted by Imee Perius, L.A. County Department of Mental Health