New mental health facility plans moving forward

ESCONDIDO — The San Diego County Board of Supervisors are moving forward with plans to construct a new facility for mentally ill patients in crisis.

Two weeks ago, the supervisors unanimously approved $900,000 to demolish existing buildings on county-owned property, which will lead to the construction of the North Inland Crisis Residential Facility on East Valley Parkway.

In addition, the county received a $3,688,468 grant from the California Health Facilities Financing Authority.

In February, the board authorized advertising for a design-build contract for the facility and appropriated $3,578,425.

According to Supervisor Dave Roberts, the demolition will “hopefully” be completed in the next several months. As for the new building, Roberts said plans have not detailed an exact completion date.

Nevertheless, Roberts said the facility is a major boost for those suffering from mental illness.

“We did several studies and one of the biggest needs was in North County,” he explained. “You never know when mental health issues will affect the family. A lot of times … people end up at the emergency room at the hospital.”

Roberts said those patients who suffer an episode could be transferred from the hospital to the residential facility for longer care. He said those individuals might stay at the new center for several weeks or months, depending on the need of care.

“When they transition … they will be able to go to this facility to be stabilized,” Roberts added.

The supervisors took action after the Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) vacated the campus in June on East Valley Parkway. The HHSA relocated to 649 W. Mission Ave.

The city of Escondido’s Planning Division consulted the county’s Department of General Services to find a suitable location for the new facility. Studies determined the property vacated by HHSA would be suitable for the new building, according to a report submitted by San Diego County Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer.

“Another need that has been identified is for long-term housing,” Roberts said.

He is referring to the board approving up to $10 million in September for residential housing for mentally-ill people, which will also be located in Escondido.

The funds expand the Behavioral Health Services Permanent Supportive Housing Program, which has grown to 241 homes since its creation in 2008.

“The great needs we are seeing is veterans,” Roberts said. “People who PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and they need a place where they can stay in debt-free beds. We are continuing to look throughout the county were there are options for longer term housing for veterans with PTSD.”

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