Substance abuse

ICYMI: Mayor Bass hosts HHS Secretary Becerra in L.A. emphasizing that approach to confronting homelessness must include substance abuse and mental health treatment

LOS ANGELES – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra joined Mayor Bass in Los Angeles yesterday to deepen the partnership with the federal government and highlight the need to include substance abuse and mental health treatments when addressing homelessness. Watch the press conference here. View photos here.

Mayor Bass and Secretary Becerra toured an Asian American Drug Abuse Program (AADAP) residential substance abuse treatment facility where residents receive housing and services for their substance use disorders (SUD). During the visit, Mayor Bass raised the importance of residential facilities to address homelessness and emphasized that she was pursuing additional funds through the City’s opioid settlement to fund residential treatment stay for longer than the currently allowed 90 days. 

“Ending homelessness in Los Angeles is not just an issue of resources, it’s not just an issue of housing. If we do not address substance abuse and mental health, we are kidding ourselves in our ability to end homelessness,” said Mayor Karen Bass during the press conference. “And that’s why we toured AADAP’s Therapeutic Community Residential Center this afternoon, because I wanted us to see what’s possible when we invest in making sure folks have time to recover in order to make sure they don’t end up back on the streets.”

Secretary Becerra and Mayor Bass also heard directly from local service providers about how the federal government can provide additional technical expertise and resources to ensure that people who are experiencing homelessness and struggling with substance abuse can receive the care that they need to successfully transition back into communities.

“One of the most critical aspects of homelessness is its inextricable link with behavioral health. We can’t treat one without the other,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “In California, we approved a first-of-its-kind 1115 waiver that became CalAIM, which will help homeless folks get into treatment and housing through Medicaid. On the federal level, we are addressing behavioral health by prioritizing prevention and treatment and, for the first time, harm reduction and long-term recovery. At the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, we will continue to push forward work to address the social determinants of health to improve the health and well-being of communities across the nation.”

Secretary Becerra’s visit with Mayor Bass comes after the White House announced earlier this month that Los Angeles would be one of just five other cities that would be a part of a historic partnership in addressing homelessness. Through this agreement, Los Angeles and the White House will work to fast track processes to bring people inside, address documentation requirements and other red tape that prevent people from being housed quickly, and create more regulatory flexibility such as support for expediting federal reimbursements.

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