MIL-OSI USA: Chavez-DeRemer Helps Introduce Legislation to Reduce Homelessness by Expanding Dual Diagnosis Care

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Source: United States House of Representatives – Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR-05)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR-05) recently joined Rep. Ken Calvert (CA-41) and several of her colleagues to introduce the Treatment and Homeless Housing Integration Act. Similar to Chavez-DeRemer’s DIRECT Care for the Homeless Act, this proposal would help connect people experiencing homelessness with treatment for substance use and behavioral health disorders – also referred to as dual diagnosis care. 

“Ensuring people experiencing homelessness can receive the health care services they need is an important first step toward helping them access transitional or permanent housing,” Chavez-DeRemer said. “Like my DIRECT Care for the Homeless Act, the Treatment and Homelessness Housing Integration Act would help connect homeless Americans with dual diagnosis care to break the cycle of addiction and poverty. I appreciate Congressman Calvert’s leadership and look forward to working together to address this aspect of the homelessness crisis.”

“After spending billions of taxpayer dollars on well-intentioned federal homeless programs, it’s clear our current approach is simply not working,” said Calvert. “Huge percentages of our homeless population are falling through the cracks of our homeless programs because they are not getting the treatment they need for their mental health or drug abuse challenges. The Treatment and Homelessness Housing Integration Act aims to address this problem by synchronizing federally funded housing programs together with federally funded behavioral health services.”

At the end of 2023, a report published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) found that Oregon has the second-highest percentage of unsheltered homeless individuals. Federal data also shows Oregon has more unaccompanied youth who are homeless than any other state – and the third-highest rate of homelessness in the nation. Many of these individuals, approximately one out of three, face substance use or mental health disorders that go untreated in part due to a lack of accessible, affordable health care options.

HUD’s Continuum of Care (CoC) Program, while promoting subsidized housing, fails to explicitly require the homeless population to participate in a mental health and substance use disorder treatment program. The consequences of prioritizing housing over access to life-saving psychiatric treatment include continued illness and reduced participation in homeless housing and services.  

The Treatment and Homeless Housing Integration Act would:

  • Require grantees of the Continuum of Care Program to refer program participants to community-based treatment. Homeless individuals who qualify for permanent supportive housing by receiving SSI and SSDI benefits would be referred to the nearest Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC). The coordination of housing and treatment for SSI and SSDI beneficiaries would establish a comprehensive support system to provide a pathway toward self-sufficiency.
  • Last Congress, CCBHCs received authorization to scale this program to all fifty states. CCBHCs provide comprehensive physical and behavioral health care services and are required to serve anyone requesting care for mental health or substance use. These clinics are also mandated to provide 24/7 crisis intervention services. Through this integrated approach, communities can more effectively address the needs of the homeless.

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MIL OSI USA News