Day 2 - Morning Sessions & Keynote Address (GHSA 12th Annual Supportive Housing Conference),

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Welcome and Greetings from the Honorable Mayor of Atlanta, Andre Dickens

Mayor Dickens is committed to ensuring development without displacement and providing practical, diverse housing options for Atlanta’s community. He is directly involved and invested in efforts to combat homelessness, including leveraging federal funds to increase the affordable housing supply, decrease barriers to accessing services, and supporting the needs and meeting the challenges of nonprofits working in this area.

Mental Health Parity and the Work of the Behavioral Health Innovation and Reform Commission

Georgia House of Representatives Chairman Mary Margaret Oliver was a leader in the historic effort that saw unanimous passage of HB 1013, the Mental Health Parity Act, in 2022. This law created a sea change in the way mental health care is being delivered in Georgia. However, it is just the start. In this “decade of mental health reforms,” the high-level Behavioral Health Reform and Innovation Commission, continues to develop short and long-range recommendations to address and improve the state’s mental health outcomes. Learn from a state leader about the progress of these reforms and priorities for the next legislative session, addressing the shortage of mental health professionals, the need for systems change and increased reimbursement rates, care coordination, licensing issues – all key priorities for the next round of reforms.

Housing Needs at the Intersection of Homelessness, Behavioral Health, and Criminal Justice

Georgia has been working hard to meet its obligations under a federal settlement agreement with the Department of Justice for the past 12 years, in a case growing out of the Atlanta Legal Aid Society’s landmark Olmstead decision. A critical aspect that remains involves the state’s commitment to house homeless people with severe and persistent mental illness who are cycling through the criminal justice system, the state hospitals and hospital emergency departments. Progress has been made through the Georgia Housing Voucher Program but more remains to be done. These already strained hospital and criminal justice systems are proven to be extremely expensive and ineffective ways of meeting the needs of chronically homeless persons, especially those with mental health and/or substance abuse disorders. Best practices support increased emphasis on diversion of these individuals away from the criminal justice system and into housing and supportive services and strengthening connections to housing and supports when leaving prisons and jails on re-entry. The Behavioral Health Reform and Innovation Commission is working with the Council of State Governments, Fulton County and other Stepping Up communities on the Familiar Faces Advisory Committee to the Courts Diversion Committee to formulate solutions.

Keynote Address: A Property Owner Who Invests in People

Stagmeier offers an inside track on the successful transformation of blighted multifamily housing properties which were boarded up and blighted and had very high crime levels. Within two years, she worked to develop a community with children playing on the playground, families thriving, and kids outperforming their peers at the local elementary school.

Recommended Citation

Mariel R. Sivley, Lauren Sudeall, Andre Dickens, Elizabeth Appley, Mary M. Oliver, Charles Francis, Kristin Stoycheff, Susan W. Goico, Amy Barrow & Margaret Stagmeier, Day 2: Morning Sessions & Keynote Address (GSHA 12th Annual Supportive Housing Conference), Center for Law, Health and Society Events 127 (2022)