LIVERMORE — The city will lend $2.4 million to a non-profit organization to buy a former church in Livermore, with the goal of making it the Tri-Valley’s first inpatient addiction treatment and counseling center for homeless and low-income people.
While the timeline for converting the church into such a facility is still unclear, officials say it is badly needed in the eastern part of Alameda County, where there is a dearth of treatment options. drug addiction for people who cannot afford sobering private centres. , or for those without top-notch health insurance.
“Our people have been so underserved and people have literally died because they had no place to seek treatment,” Eric Uranga, Livermore’s deputy director of community development, said in an interview.
“So it’s a great opportunity,” he said.
“The lack of in-hospital drug and alcohol treatment services in the Tri-Valley” is a “major barrier to providing unprotected residents with the services they need,” according to city reports.
“It’s something that’s been missing in the east county for some time,” councilman Bob Carling said at a May council meeting where the loan was approved.
“It will be a wonderful addition to the city’s contribution to work for those who need it most,” he said.
The old church site is at 2346 Walnut Street, corner of Junction Avenue, and was recently occupied by Victory Baptist Church. It consists of a main sanctuary building with classroom and office space, and a modular office that includes a full kitchen, bathtub and shower, according to city reports. Uranga said the site would provide a good processing facility, which is “very, very much needed” in the area.
Today, if homeless people are dealing with drug or alcohol abuse issues in the Tri-Valley, they often have no place to go for treatment, which can prevent them from accessing to other security services such as housing and council, officials said.
“Detox programs and sobering up programs are legitimately an entry point to the larger health care system,” said Jaime Campos, executive director of Horizon Services, which offers addiction and addiction treatment programs. alcoholism in Alameda County.
“If someone is under the influence at the time they try to access treatment, they often cannot start at a lower level of care, such as a residential facility that would not be equipped to manage withdrawal symptoms” , did he declare.
Currently, the closest drug and alcohol treatment facility to Livermore is Cherry Hill, a sobering up and detoxification program run by Horizon in San Leandro. Cherry Hill offers a 50-bed sobering program and a 32-bed detox program, according to city reports.
However, demand in the county for such programs is very high, following national trends of spikes in overdoses that have accelerated during the pandemic, Campos and city reports said.
“Often, city homeless liaisons and/or nonprofit partners transport homeless people to the facility only to find that there is no more space available,” said Livermore employees.
“The level of need in the county is just huge,” Campos said.
“When someone brings in a potential admission to the program and they’re from Livermore, it’s tough because we only have so many staff and beds that we can oversee,” Campos said.
“So it’s kind of a delicate dance to try to maximize access to treatment when people need it, but at the same time we have limited capacity and workforce,” Campos said.
The city is loaning the Housing Consortium of the East Bay, an Oakland nonprofit organization, approximately $2.4 million from the city’s affordable housing fund to purchase the property for $2.1 million and cover 300 000 dollars of “pre-development expenses”. including “testing, development feasibility analysis, architectural design costs and administration expenses,” the city reports said.
The housing consortium will act as the site holder until the city “can identify a suitably qualified nonprofit service provider” to operate the substance abuse treatment facility, according to a staff report.
The city is in talks with Hayward nonprofit La Familia, which provides a range of mental health and community services, as a possible contractor to manage the site, but nothing is official yet, Uranga said.
The city is also working closely with the Alameda County Department of Behavioral Health and Office of County Supervisor David Haubert to try to secure funding from the state’s “Behavioral Health Continuum Infrastructure Program.” for the establishment. This money would allow the city to be repaid in full for its loan, and ownership could be transferred to a nonprofit organization to run the program.
City of Livermore staff reports said that if the grant application is unsuccessful, the housing nonprofit will retain city funds and instead pursue development of an affordable housing project on the website.
Campos of Horizon said many other services, such as the potential Tri-Valley Drug Enforcement Program, are needed in Alameda County.
“It would be a welcome addition there in the Livermore area. We would support that 100%,” he said.