A proposed YCCC facility in Davis is drawing criticism from at least one neighbor on Tuesday night. During public comment, a man came forward to say, “There is a home in (my) neighborhood that is potentially being re-zoned to be a group home.”
He explained, “The concern about that is the executive director who is getting that home is verbally stating that felons and mentally ill individuals – so the combination not just one or the other – will be residing quite frankly, four houses from me.”
He continued, “The absence of information as we delve more into it, is demonstrating that the group home or the municipal code for group homes, this does not fall under it. It does not fall under group homes when felons are there. And the executive director has already said that felons will be residing in there.”
The man asked council not to grant any permits until “all the information has been identified and resolved.”
The comment triggered a public comment response in addition to the Yolo Community Care Continuum (YCCC) providing the public with a general overview dated July 23.
Michele Kellogg, Executive Director of YCCC, said that their group has been providing services to mentally ill folks in this community for over 40 years.
“I’m committed to this community. I care about it. I want to improve our community,” she said. “We are opening a new program, it is in El Macero.”
She said that they have been having conversations with the neighbors and when she has spoken with them in person and explained the program, “almost everyone has said, that sounds reasonable.”
She said the program that they’re opening “is first of all very small.” She said, “There’s only going to be six people there. It will be staffed 24/7 by a wake staff. There’s a program director.
“The people we’re accepting into the program are people that want to get well,” she added. “These are people who, yes, committed some kind of crime – a non-violent crime. That’s really important. No rapists. No child molesters. No arsonists. But people that because of their mental illness have done something in the community and they want to get better.”
YCCC provided a letter to the council for people wanting more information about the program. The project does not have a name per se, but the program is referred to in the letter as New Journeys Diversion.
It is a 24-hour, seven days per week, residential program that provides diversion from incarceration “in a supportive, group living environment for adults who committed a non-violent crime due to a mental health crisis.”
The letter notes: “This is a voluntary program that provides 24-hour supervision at all times on site. A Program Director provides direct oversight of the program and Behavioral Health Specialists provide the day to day operations. The program does not accept individuals who have committed a violent felony.”
The letter goes on to explain, “Clients are referred by Solano County Behavioral Health Department. NJ can accept clients ages 18-59 and may admit one client over age 59 at a time.”
The letter keeps repeating, “NJ does not accept violent clients, those in medical detoxification, or requiring immediate medical assistance.”
In addition, “Other persons experiencing acute emotional crisis or psychotic episodes are referred to NJ after being evaluated and medically cleared for the program.”
As Ms. Kellogg indicated during her public comment, “The maximum number of residents is 6.”
The letter explains: “Residents enter into a contract between themselves and NJ which outlines client participation and treatment planning, conditions specific to the nature of the client’s crisis and compliance with house rules and expectations.
“NJ staff provides encouragement and support needed for Residents to fulfill personal contracts. The program is designed. to enlist, clients in personal treatment plans and processes. Clients are required to participate in household and grounds chores and up-keep to the best of their ability, and to participate. in group and individual counseling sessions.
“Emphasis is placed on defining and addressing treatment issues and planning for the immediate future; mobilizing appropriate community, family, and personal resources.”
As part of the structured treatment program, “New Journeys provides groups and activities daily.”
In her comment, Ms. Kellogg indicated that they try to set up their clients to have success in the community and “they return to the community that they came from.”
She said, “We believe that people with mental health issues deserve a chance to get well. We’re here to serve them.”
She added, “We have a tremendous track record in this community of success.”
In their letter, they noted, “We are very responsive to the community and try our best to resolve any issues that occur: We are respectful of the properties that we rent and have a good track record with landlords and neighbors. I would be happy to meet with neighbors and give them my information in case there are things that they have concerns about.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting