Ted Lieu’s office announced last week the U.S. Congressman secured $7.5 million to fight homelessness locally, including nearly $4 million earmarked for programs in Santa Monica and Venice, for the fiscal year that began July 1. Though “secured” — in the words of Lieu’s office — the funding is not guaranteed until the full House of Representatives approves the funding bill and it is signed into law, which is expected to occur later this month.

In late June, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Appropriations put forth a 207-page appropriations bill allocating $242.1 billion toward the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education for the budget year from July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023. The bill is one of several appropriation packages heading before the full House later this month. 

Altogether, Lieu has worked to secure more than $23.5 million in potential federal funding for 15 programs across District 33 (which spans the Westside and South Bay of Los Angeles from Malibu through Rancho Palos Verdes) for the next budget year, covering a wide range of issue areas. Those include a pedestrian trail in Pacific Palisades, modernization of the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant in Playa Del Rey and a new carbon capture pilot at UCLA.

Here in Santa Monica, $1.5 million is set aside for a Santa Monica Behavioral Health Center. 

If approved, the $1.5 million in federal funding will be added to another $1.5 million recently allocated out of the $308 billion state budget. 

The funding news comes months after Santa Monica city staff first shared the concept for a behavioral health center, which came about due to the urgent need for mental health beds locally and followed the decision by Providence Saint John’s (PSJ) to not include any inpatient mental health beds in its extensive remodel, which city council approved earlier this year.

As earlier reported in the Santa Monica Daily Press, PSJ officials have said that they are unwilling to incorporate inpatient beds into their plan and instead see their contribution to the mental health crisis as providing mental health urgent care (treatment for under 24 hours) and outpatient services. According to PSJ estimates, an inpatient facility would cost around $1.4 million per bed to set up and the ongoing operating costs for a 50 bed facility would be around $14 million per year, escalating annually.

As a compromise, PSJ will be providing a $10 million grant for the City to fund behavioral health initiatives as part of a greater community benefits agreement, which is estimated to provide $100 million in investments in the city over the next 30 years. City staff have earmarked the $10 million grant for capital expenditures to build the potential behavioral health facility. 

The PSJ grant, combined with $3 million in state and federal funding, puts the behavioral health center coffers at a healthy $13 million. 

Back in May, the City estimated city council would select a vendor and begin the visioning process toward the end of this summer. As of this week, city staff were reviewing proposals and remained on track to bring their recommendations before council around summer’s end, according to City spokespeople.

In addition to funding earmarked for the behavioral health center, Lieu’s office also detailed three other initiatives currently in line for federal funds over the next 12 months: $500,000 toward furnishing and equipping the Venice Family Clinic with new IT equipment and pharmacy and care team workstations; $1 million toward a Ready to Succeed Scholarship Program in Santa Monica to support foster youth in achieving their academic and career goals; and nearly $1 million ($898,053) toward the St. Joseph Center in Venice, to support job training and career development programs through the Purpose Lab Employment Project, which serves homeless people as well as those at risk of becoming homeless.

“Homelessness remains an incredible challenge in our country, but especially in our community,” Lieu said in a statement provided by his office. “I’m pleased to champion these programs in Los Angeles County that will serve to address some of the acute issues facing homeless individuals, like shelter, healthcare and mental health support, as well as programs to help homeless people get back on their feet. I look forward to championing these projects as they move through the appropriations process. Securing funding to support these programs is a top priority.” 

Clara Harter contributed to this report.

emily@smdp.com