Limited Community Resources Perpetuate Mental Health Disparities & Substance Use Disorders
Lake County, a picturesque rural community in Northern California, is surrounded by wealth but is also home to severe inequities, high poverty and homelessness, all exacerbated by a strong need for mental health and substance use services. To address these stark disparities, community leaders in 2015 organized a health coalition—Hope Rising Lake County—to engage residents and reduce health inequities. Within two years’ time, the coalition had adopted the ACH model to elevate their work.
Building Capacity and Infrastructure for Strong Community-Clinical Linkages
Hope Rising’s vision is for Lake County to become a healthy place for every person to live, learn, engage and thrive. This vision will be actualized by mobilizing community-clinical linkages, inspiring actions that support wellness and encouraging a comprehensive approach to complex issues like homelessness.
Hope Rising Lake County serves as its own administrative backbone organization. Its organizers opted to create their own 501(c)(3) to manage its operations, with an executive director, AmeriCorp staff and additional workers funded by partner organizations.
The ACH and its team act as a neutral convener that brings together government, nonprofits, health care, public health and local business interests to collectively develop innovative solutions, ensure accountability and achieve measurable outcomes. To date, it has established a governance system and board, received numerous grants, and started to address homelessness, opioid abuse and perinatal substance use in partnership with providers.
ACH IN ACTION
Mobilizing Resources to Reduce Opioids and House the Homeless
Its SafeRX program has made significant inroads into reducing opioid consumption, helping over 2,600 community members receive support to prevent, treat and recover from substance use. The program has also achieved concrete policy and systems changes, including the implementation of countywide safe narcotic prescribing guidelines.
SafeRX’s work is guided by community input—including from those with lived experience around drug use and/or homelessness. Hope Rising pays these harder-to-engage residents to participate, ensuring equity and representation from impacted communities. To address the county’s skyrocketing perinatal substance use rate, which is now five times the state average, SafeRX has established a Perinatal Wellness Task Force.
The ACH has also recently launched the Hope Center for Transformation, an innovative program that provides intensive case management and transitional housing to unhoused individuals, helping them access housing programs and social services. The Center has already assisted 34 residents in just a few months, helping to chip away at the area’s high homeless rate (3,370 of the county’s 64,000 residents).
Broadening Impact and Boosting Sustainability
What’s next? Hope Rising’s organizers are continuing to strengthen its Wellness Fund, allowing the ACH to braid public and private funding streams to fuel its efforts. They are also scaling a “Smart Start Bright Future” program to provide case management for young mothers. The program includes an eligibility wizard portal that helps participants search for local services and introduces a family navigator to participants in the city of Clearlake. The initiative also enhances local after school programs and provides college enrollment assistance through a community partner, 10,000 Degrees.
Learn more at www.hoperisinglc.org.
The California Accountable Communities for Health Initiative (CACHI) was established to spearhead efforts to modernize our health system and build a healthier California. To realize this vision, CACHI utilizes a model known as Accountable Communities for Health (ACH), where multiple sectors align goals and collaborate to address the leading health issues facing our communities.