Mental & Behavioral Health and Affordable Housing
Last November DuPage United held a Delegate Assembly where 75 leaders from 18 member institutions met to discuss housing, jobs, transportation and mental health. The largest number of leaders chose to participate in the mental health group. Since then, seven institutions held small group listening sessions reaching 166 people. The mental health team has grown and collectively conducted 25 research actions with the Sheriff, State's Attorney, County Health Department, social service agencies, County Board Chairman, police chiefs and officers, judges, and probation officers.
Earlier this year a total of 250 people gathered in two separate sessions to learn from Associate Administrative Judge Leifman from Miami Dade County who was invited to speak on how they have successfully restructured the courts, health department, sheriff, and police forces to more effectively respond to the needs of those that are mentally ill. This restructuring and reallocation of resources resulted a significant reduction of the jail population. This, in turn, allowed one jail to close and saved the county $12 million a year. Those savings were reinvested in treatment and housing for the mentally ill. Diversion of those in mental and behavioral crisis has significantly reduced the number of persons charged with a crime. In just one year, 3500 specially trained officers responded to 16,000 mental health calls, but due to training and resources in place, there were only 45 arrests.
DuPage United attended county sponsored meetings on repurposing 40 acres of county-owned land. In collaboration with DuPage PADS (temporary emergency shelter for the homeless), we submitted a proposal for mixed income and supportive housing to be built on this land.
DuPage United leaders went to Rockford IL with key elected officials, hospital representatives, a deputy sheriff, and others to see how a successful crisis stabilization center is run. A crisis center is a more effective alternative to hospital emergency rooms for those with a mental illness or behavioral crisis. They can also save millions of dollars.
DuPage United is working with Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) affiliates in Kane, Cook, and Lake Counties on this issue and recently met with the Illinois Director of Public Safety, Rodger Heaton who was appointed by Governor Rauner. Mr. Heaton is also the head of a state commission charged with reducing the jail population by 25%. He joined DuPage United and affiliate leaders and allies to meet with Judge Leifman in Springfield IL to continue to learn from the successes in Miami Dade County.
Based on extensive research DuPage United has currently set three goals to begin to address this issue:
- Increase the number of police officers with Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) to 75% of all police officers in DuPage County. This training provides tools for police officers to deescalate a situation and divert non-violent criminals from jail and into treatment. Only 60 officers are currently trained.
- Extend and establish more full service crisis stabilization centers to provide short-term and long-term treatment as well as emergency crisis care.
- Seek opportunities to increase more affordable and supportive housing in DuPage County.