Rep. Schiff Introduces Bill to Address Dual Housing and Behavioral Health Crises
Washington, DC — Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) introduced the Promoting Access to Treatment and Housing (PATH) Act to tackle the simultaneous crises of homelessness and behavioral health.
This legislation would establish a new federal center and grant program to dramatically expand access to mental and behavioral health services, including substance use disorder treatment, for people experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity.
The PATH Act is supported by Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, LA Regional Food Bank, and the California State Association of Counties.
“Many of those who are experiencing housing insecurity or homelessness face significant barriers to accessing the care they need to treat a mental health condition or substance use disorder,” said Rep. Schiff. “My legislation will ensure people won’t fall through the cracks by establishing a new federal office focused on improving and expanding existing services and programs and directingadditional funding to states and cities to improve their behavioral health and housing services.”
“The converging crises of homelessness, substance use disorder and mental health are a heartbreaking reality for so many Americans,” Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi said. “The Providing Access to Treatment and Housing Act is a critical step forward: establishing a new federal office to lead efforts to improve services and making bold investments in mental and behavioral health initiatives. Thanks to Congressman Adam Schiff’s visionary leadership, this legislation tears down barriers so that our most vulnerable neighbors get the vital health services they need – at home in California and across the country.”
“The PATH Act would help deliver needed federal resources to meet the urgency of the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles and across the country. These funds would be crucial in expanding our ability to provide mental health services and substance abuse treatment. I want to thank Congressman Schiff for his leadership and I call on Members of Congress to support this bill,” said Mayor Bass.
“As a comprehensive homeless services agency in Los Angeles County, every day, we witness first-hand the devastating crises of homelessness, poor mental health, and substance use disorders among a third of the people we assist. We regularly fight to raise private dollars in order to pay for these critical services, rather than have people languish on waiting lists. We welcome Representative Schiff’s introduction of the Promoting Access to Treatment and Housing (PATH) Act at this important time,” said Dr. Laura Duncan, Executive Director of Ascencia.
"The LA Regional Food Bank is supportive of actions taken to reduce hunger in our community, and the PATH Act addresses the critical link between homelessness, mental health, and substance use disorders, which are key drivers of food insecurity," said Food Bank President and CEO, Michael Flood. "By expanding access to vital services and comprehensive housing support, this bill has the potential to significantly alleviate food insecurity in our community."
“The California State Association of Counties (CSAC) strongly supports Rep. Schiff’s PATH Act to improve and expand access to behavioral health services for individuals who are unhoused or experiencing housing instability,” said Chuck Washington, CSAC President and Riverside County Third District Supervisor. “California is home to the largest population of unhoused individuals but funding for behavioral health services and housing is already highly impacted. The PATH Act would provide new grant funding to assist our counties with workforce training and expand access to beneficial, evidence-based services. Further, this legislation dovetails with CSAC’s AT HOME Plan to comprehensively address homelessness by increasing funding and flexibility to better meet the complex needs of our unhoused constituents.”
“Health equity cannot truly happen unless we address the social determinants of health and mental health,” said American Psychiatric Association CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “Safe and secure housing is an integral component of overall wellbeing, and mental health and substance use disorders are exacerbated by the stressors of homelessness and the often-concurrent lack of access to care. The APA supports Representative Schiff’s introduction of the Providing Access to Treatment and Housing (PATH) Act to invest in mental health and substance use disorder services for those experiencing housing insecurity.”
“Every day there are hundreds of thousands of people experiencing homelessness in the U.S., many of whom are also affected by a mental health or substance use disorder (SUD),” said Christopher S. Kang, MD, FACEP, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). “These vulnerable populations often experience considerable health inequalities and limited access to care – leaving many with no other option than emergency departments, which are buckling under the strain of the boarding crisis and continue to lack sufficient personnel, programs, and community support. By providing critical resources to improve access to mental health and SUD services for those experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity, the Providing Access to Treatment and Housing (PATH) Act will reduce barriers to and improve the quality of care that patients need and deserve and also strengthen the health and wellbeing of each of our communities.”
The PATH Act will improve access to mental health and substance use disorder services among unhoused individuals by:
- Establishing a new office within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to lead federal efforts to improve and expand access to substance use disorder (SUD) and mental health services for individuals experiencing housing instability and homelessness.
- Establishing a grant program funded at $2 billion for each fiscal year over a period of five years that will provide funds for States, cities, territories, and Tribes to improve behavioral health, mental health, and substance use disorder services, as well as comprehensive housing services, in consultation with the HUD Continuum of Care program.
The PATH Act was cosponsored by Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.), Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Bill Keating (D-Mass.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), Annie Kuster (D-N.H.), Jasmine Crockett (D-Texas), Morgan McGarvey (D-Ky.), and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-Washington D.C.).
The bill is endorsed by Ascencia, American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), American Psychiatric Association (APA), California Academy of Family Physicians (CAFP), California Medical Association (CMA), California State Association of Counties (CSAC), LeadingAge, Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), National Housing & Rehabilitation Association (NHRA), National Leased Housing Association (NLHA), and United Nurses Associations of California/ Union of Health Care Professionals (UNAC/UHCP).
You can find the full bill text here.