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The news came in September: Long Beach Residential, a 49-bed home for adults who are mentally ill, was being sold. The residents of the converted apartment building, some of whom had lived there for decades, would have 60 days to move.
It’s a scenario that is becoming increasingly common across California, brought on by a combination of an inadequate state funding system and California’s red hot real estate market.
The problem is particularly acute in Los Angeles County, where board-and-care homes are disappearing even as hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent to house homeless people. An April survey estimated that 39 such facilities had closed in the previous three years — eliminating 949 beds out of an estimated 6,100.
The board-and-care crisis is “what keeps me awake at night,” said Jonathan Sherin, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. “We haven’t paid attention to it for years. We’ve lost thousands of units.”
The homes — which provide 24-hour staffing, serve three meals a day and administer medication — are for adults with debilitating mental illness who are unable to care for themselves. Most residents are poor as well and, therefore, at high risk of homelessness.
Reimbursement for the services board-and-care homes provide, which is based on state budget allotments and Social Security levels, is currently about $35 a day per resident.
That rate has fallen so far behind inflation that operators say it is barely enough to cover food and pay their staffs. Some are struggling to maintain aging buildings that are worth more as real estate than as a business.
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