August 14, 2018
Meeting was called to order by Matthew Rainwater at 7:30am. Brian Garrett led the flag salute.
Kevin H. moved to accept the August 7 meeting minutes, seconded by Jack G. Motion passed.
Mayor Sissy Bruch announced a Port Angeles City Hall think tank session about vacant houses today at 5:30pm.
Program: Peninsula Behavioral Health
Success story told by employee Carrie. She goes on daily outreach trips with Viola from Serenity House. At 18 years old she was addicted to meds for pain management and became homeless. Now she is a recovery coach. it’s hard to stay sober on the streets, hard to make it to appointments, and she didn’t understand why she couldn’t stop drinking. In jail multiple times, now she is clean and sober. With PBH she is working on eliminating barriers to getting others help.
Rebecca Miller of PBH:
Not all homeless are criminals, not all criminals are homeless. We need to put a face to the problem. They may not have housing for them but can stay in touch and get them services they need.
Regarding bussing to Port Angeles.
People come here because they have a connection. They are not being bussed here. When a prisoner is released they must return to the county where the felony was committed. They must report to DOC until they are released to move elsewhere. PBH works with Serenity House which should be reopening their shelter in the winter.
John Brewer toured PBH and their housing facilities. 114 employees and 14 jobs posted.
Prisoners will use family connections to stay in town and those are the ones most likely to succeed. Peninsula College has programs at Clallam Bay. The challenge is to continue educational programs when they’re sent out of the area. Sometimes up to half do not re-offend if they have access to education. 15-20% are housing insecure. Up to a third are house or food insecure in community colleges. In Sequim there are 20 kids aged 15-17 through the YMCA who are couch surfing. They are over 200 Sequim students who are homeless per Sequim Chief of Police.
How can the business community help?
It is their (PBH) job to take care of these people so that we can help continue to create jobs and housing. We need tolerance of the problem and the community can contribute to non-profits. Programs that promote transitional treatment and housing are needed.
How do we handle people who appear to be mentally ill?
You can’t force people into treatment. PBH has classes on how to interact with people and how to help. It’s an 8 hour certified class.
How do you balance civil liberties and committing involuntarily? How do you track success? With many issues that are important, where do you focus? What are your priorities?
Communication is key. Silos would kill their momentum. Everyone can start chipping away because they are all important. Help has variable impact to everyone who comes in. There are no cures for mental illness or addiction. Things may resolve themselves but may come back. What they do is provide tools to manage their issues; but it doesn’t go away. They don’t track clients, it’s difficult.
How do you define agency success?
Keeping people out of jail, finding them housing and ensuring they are maintaining a job. PBH is seeing the Medicaid population now as well. Sometimes they don’t know the indirect impact on their success.
Mark Nichols cited the RCW regarding prisoner release as being “released to community custody and placed in county of origin in which they committed their first felony in WA State”.
Bill Benedict said the traditional system does poorly with mental illness. Drug court has over 50% success rate. We need to prevent it with early intervention with kids. Boys & Girls Club is fundraising. Sept 6 PBH is kicking off a capital campaign for building a children’s facility on site. They currently see 3rd generation offenders.
Meeting adjourned at 8:30am.