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Council Approves Partnership with Be Well OC for Mobile Mental Health, Crisis Response

The City Council has approved a contract agreement for mobile response services to address mental health challenges among the City’s homeless population, as well as residents and visitors who may be experiencing a mental health crisis.

On Tuesday, September 28, the Council approved a $1.2-million agreement with Mind OC to fund its Be Well OC Mobile Crisis Response Team for an initial one-year term. The partnership will launch in December 2021.

Mind OC is a local nonprofit organization focused on coordinating services across multiple public and private systems to provide mental health support for the community.

Under the Be Well OC program, experienced crisis counselors and paramedics will respond to mental health calls for service to the Police Department’s non-emergency or 911 call lines, reducing the need for police and emergency medical services. Newport Beach will have a dedicated two-person team, 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. Patients can be transported to a local crisis center, detox facility, or shelter, as needed. Be Well OC staff will work closely with the City’s public safety teams to ensure an appropriate response to calls for service.

The program’s first-year cost, about $1.2 million, is being offset by an anonymous donation from a Newport Beach resident of $132,000 for a van and set-up costs. Federal grants will be used to fund about $717,000, and the remaining $376,000 will come from funding currently allocated for homeless shelter operations. City staff is pursuing grants, additional donations, and other cost-sharing opportunities to offset future costs.

The Be Well OC program will augment the City’s current efforts to address homelessness, which include a shelter partnership with the City of Costa Mesa, and a new pilot program that will provide volunteer opportunities for individuals experiencing homelessness to learn and/or rebuild job skills and a path toward stable employment and housing.

Through a comprehensive, proactive response to addressing homelessness, the City has helped 67 homeless individuals obtain permanent housing since 2019. The City’s homeless population fluctuates seasonally, between about 60 in the winter and 95 in the summer.  

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