MCHOME Homeless Services
MCHOME is the only program in Monterey County that provides both:
- outreach to homeless adults with mental illness and
- supportive housing with intensive, integrated services.
MCHOME’s goal is to move homeless adults with mental illness off the streets and into housing and treatment.
Our counselors reach out to approximately 100 homeless adults each year to reduce the number of homeless mentally ill adults living on the streets in Monterey County. We evaluate them for indications of chronic homelessness and psychiatric disability, and, if they qualify, enroll them in intensive, integrated services that include housing, food, psychiatric care, and financial counseling. We work closely with the Monterey County Health Department Behavioral Health Division (MCBH) to help our clients get the medical services and medications they need. We work closely with the Department of Social Services to help them file for benefits, such as SSI. We work to connect them to Interim’s Supported Education & Employment (SEES) and with the Department of Rehabilitation to find employment. Those who do not qualify for Interim’s services (that is, they do not have a severe mental illness) are referred to other appropriate service providers. Special services to deal with substance abuse are provided through a collaborative arrangement with Monterey County Health Department Behavioral Health Division.
Supportive housing programs like MCHOME (called a “housing first” program) have been shown nationwide to reduce the number of homeless people living on the streets or in shelters and to help to reduce the number of days the homeless spend in more costly local jails and hospitals.
The MCHOME project is funded by the State’s Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), the City of Salinas, the City of Monterey, United Way of Monterey County, and private donations. There is no fee to the individual. Once they are housed, clients pay for rent, food, and personal-need items on a sliding scale.
If you are concerned about a homeless individual in your neighborhood, please contact a MCHOME Outreach Counselor at 831.883.3030.
When the MCHOME Program first started, staff attended an Immersion Training at The Village in Long Beach, which was one of the original pilot programs for the AB2034 model of assisting clients who are homeless and have psychiatric disabilities. During the training, attendees watched a Sesame Street video starring Ernie and his rubber ducky. The video was a creative and wonderful portrayal of Ernie, who wants to learn to play the saxophone, but cannot succeed because he will not put down his favorite rubber ducky. The message given to him musically from many different performers is “You gotta put down the ducky to learn to play the saxophone.” The ducky represents whatever gets in the way of us moving toward growth and change, and how we need to put those barriers down in order to recover. It has become a profound and amusing metaphor used by the MCHOME Program to encourage change. MCHOME is now collected a varied and myriad group of rubber duckies as a reminder of the ability to embrace wellness.
Playing our Song: Sunflower Gardens Goes Platinum
Just minutes before he was due to speak at the Sunflower Gardens Grand Opening on Friday, June 18, Jordan Daniels of the US Green Building Council–Monterey got word from headquarters that Sunflower Gardens had received the highest possible award—Platinum certification—for energy conservation and sustainable building practices. The US Green Building Council sets green building standards under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Homes (LEED for Homes) rating system, which sets Platinum certification at the highest level. Approximately 250 supporters and dignitaries were on hand for the announcement and the ribbon cutting, some from as far away as Sacramento and San Francisco. Speakers praised Sunflower Gardens for its mission and innovation.
Sunflower Gardens is Interim’s 19th building project to provide affordable supportive housing for adults with mental illness who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. It may be Interim’s 19th project, but it is the first project in California to be built from the ground up with funding from Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Housing Program (Prop. 63).
The 18-unit building is now home to 23 adults with mental illness who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.