Chavez Delemer introduces homelessness bill to expand mental health and substance abuse care

WASHINGTON (KTVZ) – Representative Lori Chavez Delemer (OR-05) and Representative Summer Lee (PA-12) introduced the bipartisan Homeless Direct Care Act on Wednesday.

The new proposal comes as homelessness continues to rise at record rates across the country, and would require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide direct medical services to homeless people nationwide. We are seeking to create a testing program that will help.America

“I believe that addressing the homelessness crisis requires a different approach that breaks the never-ending cycle of substance abuse, mental illness, and poverty. Unaffordable, Oregon ranks last in accessibility to addiction treatment. The Bipartisan Homeless Direct Care Act would provide direct care to the homeless, This crisis is impacting communities in Oregon and across the United States. I want to thank Congressman Lee for joining this bipartisan national effort.” Chavez Delemer said.

“In a country with the most billionaires on the planet, everyone deserves access to safe, stable housing. But with rising housing costs in Western Pennsylvania and across the country, Without access to health care, almost all of us are at risk of falling into a vicious cycle of homelessness, mental illness, drug use, and poverty. We need to break this cycle. I, along with Congressman Chavez Delemer, I am proud to introduce the Direct Care for Homelessness Act, which will advance housing justice and health care by providing unhoused people with the direct care they need to transition to a safe and secure life. This is bipartisan legislation that brings us one step closer to justice: stable housing. Just as housing is a determinant of health, access to health care, especially mental health care, is a determinant of housing.” Mr. Lee said.

Direct Care for the Homeless Act receives wide support from community organizations and street health professionals

This bipartisan proposal is a collaboration between LoveOne, the Oregon Coalition of Police and Sheriffs (ORCOPS), Central Oregon Veterans Outreach (COVO), Street Medicine Institute (SMI), Central City Concern, and the Keck School of Medicine at Southern University. Supported by Street Medicine in California (USC).

“The immediate needs of the people we work with almost always center around medical care, mental health, and substance use. In addition to safe and stable housing, we need access to medical care that includes these elements. I’m sure if we had a system that provided continuous access, I wish there was a simple solution, but the reality is that this is a complex problem and there are no individual solutions. and direct care for people.The Homeless Act addresses a key element of the crisis.” Brandi Johnson, Executive Director of LoveOne, said:

“Street Medicine Institute is a proud supporter of the Direct Care for Homelessness Act. Street Medicine provides direct care to individuals experiencing homelessness on their own terms and in their own spaces. The goals of the Direct Care for Homelessness Act are consistent with the Street Medicine Institute’s core values ​​of unity, authenticity, transformative disruption, and fostering healing communities. A historic step to provide critical support to the homeless community, this legislation will spur change in the healthcare industry and redesign models of care for this marginalized and highly vulnerable population. I hope you will.” Steve Perry, Chairman of the Street Medicine Institute, said:

“We applaud this landmark street care bill that begins the process of providing reality-based health care to our rough-sleeping population. Health care is essential, but when some people are excluded, , we all suffer. This bill will bring public awareness to street medicine, support relevant medical education, and help create a framework to break the cycle of homelessness.” Dr. Jim Withers, founder of Street Medicine Institute, said:

“Many cities across the West Coast and Oregon are struggling to cohere a public safety response to the many crises they face across the system. We need to focus on partnerships and The Direct Care for Homelessness Act is a bipartisan effort to encourage a new generation of public servants to join this effort. ORCOPS supports this and all interdisciplinary platforms to support community recovery .” said Aaron Schmautz, president of the Oregon State Police and Sheriffs Association.

“CCC is pleased to support this bipartisan-led Direct Care for Homelessness Act.” “Central City Concern is proud to be a leader in the field,” said Dr. Andy Mendenhall, President and CEO of Central City Concern. “Part of CCC’s work is to pursue policies that expand the “every door” continuum of care in housing, medical, recovery, and comprehensive support to help maintain and improve the housing and well-being of the people we serve.” We know that it promotes positive clinical outcomes. This legislation pilots initiatives such as: Secure federal funding investments in mobile health services that reach our nation’s most vulnerable populations. ”

“The University of Southern California (USC) and the Keck School of Medicine are pleased to collaborate on this historic bipartisan legislation and support it as it advances best practices to address the health care needs of the unhoused population. Street health programs provide critical access to health care. “By allowing health professionals to treat people experiencing homelessness in their living environment, We thank Congressman Chavez Delemer for his leadership on this issue and look forward to expanding street medicine programs across the country.” Brett Feldman, director of street medicine at the University of Southern California, California, said:

Background of the Direct Homeless Care Act

Oregon’s homeless population is growing at the fastest pace in the nation, jumping 23 percent from 2020 to 2022, according to federal data. At least 18,000 people became homeless on a single night in Oregon last year, but advocates say that number is likely an underestimate. True total. Many of these people, approximately one in three, are facing substance abuse or mental health disorders, and one of the reasons for this is the lack of available and affordable health care options. That’s what I’m doing.

Street health providers fill this care gap by going directly to patients and providing care on the streets, in encampments, and wherever homeless people live. Dual diagnosis care, or streamlining access to care for both substance abuse and mental health disorders, can help homeless people take the first step in transitioning off the streets and into safe, stable housing. Helpful.

To that end, the bipartisan Homeless Direct Care Act:

  • Creates a four-year pilot program within HHS to expand access to street care for unsheltered and homeless people.
  • Applies to cities or counties with 150 unsheltered homeless people per 100,000 residents, as determined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
  • Prohibits providers within the program from receiving reimbursement for supervising the intake of Schedule I drugs, including fentanyl, cocaine, and methamphetamine.
  • Encourage workers to join the field by expanding eligibility for public service loan forgiveness to social service workers and making medical students pursuing street medicine eligible for a suspension of student loan payments without accruing interest. Encourage.
  • Requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to release findings analyzing the program’s effectiveness.and
  • Includes provisions to improve safety and expand resources available at homeless shelters.

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