Disappearing board-and-care homes

Licensed board-and-cares are closing at a rapid clip

There is no reliable statewide data tracking the facilities, which provide food, laundry and medication help and often serve as a safety net for people with serious mental illness who can’t live independently. But since 2012, San Francisco has lost more than a third of licensed residential facilities that serve people under 60, and more than a quarter of those serving older clients. Los Angeles has lost more than 200 beds for low-income people with serious mental illness in the past year.

As housing values soar and minimum-wage increases drive up staffing costs, government-set reimbursement rates have remained stagnant. The homes receive $1058—just under $35 a day—from tenants to pay for housing, 24-hour-care and three daily meals.

Advocates say the state needs to collect better data—and significantly increase reimbursement rates—if it hopes to save the remaining facilities.

“If legislators don’t get onto this, we’re in big trouble,” said Lisa Kodmur, who is contracting with Los Angeles County on the issue. “We will see more homelessness, more incarceration, more institutionalization, more people living on the streets.”