“This is an exciting and innovative program that will take a health-first approach to helping people experiencing homelessness,” said Mayor Robert Garcia.
Each REACH team will be composed of a public health nurse, a mental health clinician and two outreach workers to appropriately address the needs of people experiencing homelessness. REACH teams will serve as a best-practice alternative response model with the goal of increasing access to services for people experiencing homelessness, while working to reduce the number of calls for emergency response for mental and physical health-related situations.
“The REACH teams’ compassionate response will focus on care and ongoing mental and physical health supports,” said Health and Human Services Director Kelly Colopy. “We will continue to work with public safety and other City departments to bring a holistic approach to helping people experiencing homelessness in Long Beach.”
In situations when the Fire or Police Departments are called first, REACH teams will be available to receive handoffs from Fire and Police when a person who is experiencing homelessness has been evaluated and is not in need of additional crisis-related services, such as hospitalization. This is intended to connect the person to services so that they do not enter back into a situation where they are in need of emergency response due to being on the street.
When not responding to urgent calls for response, the REACH teams will provide proactive outreach as well as follow-up engagement to people experiencing homelessness. This may include interacting with people in treatment settings such as hospitals, mental health or substance use disorder programs or interim housing settings to ensure that a connection is maintained and people are continually supported in their connection to the service system and recovery. For people who regularly interact with emergency response services, the REACH teams will be a key partner in ending the person’s cycle of homelessness and improving health outcomes through proactive follow-up, engagement and close coordination between the Homeless Services Bureau and other care partners. The REACH teams increase the capacity of the Health Department’s Homeless Services Bureau (HSB) as the lead agency for coordinated outreach through the Outreach Network Team throughout Long Beach. The current Outreach Network Team is composed of four full-time HSB outreach staff; Police Department Quality of Life officers; the Fire Department HEART unit; Public Works Department; Parks, Recreation and Marine Department; and several community-based agencies.
The REACH teams will operate weekdays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., with expansion into weekends when additional staffing is secured. The REACH teams may be contacted by calling 562.570.4672 (4MSC). Calls that come in after 4:30 p.m. will direct individuals, via voicemail, to contact 9-1-1 for immediate medical response. Any messages received after 4 p.m. will be reviewed the following morning. Calls and messages will be triaged and prioritized based upon urgency. Any call or message that does not have a direct concern regarding a person’s physical or mental health will be scheduled within normal outreach protocols and will be addressed within 48 hours. For more information about the City’s homeless services, visit longbeach.gov/health/.