The City of Concord is spending more than $500,000 to fund its own Mental Health Evaluation Team to work full time with the city’s homeless population, and to expand the Coordinated Outreach Referral and Engagement (CORE) homeless outreach team partnership with Contra Costa County from half-time to full-time in the city.

The Concord City Council in September voted unanimously to create its own Mental Health Evaluation Team and to expand the hours of the CORE team working within Concord. The council last week hammered out the funding and some other specifics of those initiatives.

The CORE teams, operated in conjunction with Contra Costa Health Services to help connect the chronically homeless population with needed services ranging from food and basic supplies to homes, each typically split time between two cities. Since its 2017 creation, the CORE team serving Concord has worked half of its time in Walnut Creek.

Also in 2017, Contra Costa Health Services and county police chiefs formed the Mental Health Evaluation Team program, in which a county mental health specialist partners with a city police officer to help guide the homeless to outpatient mental health services and related assistance. Such teams operate in east, west and central Contra Costa.

The city will contract with the county to oversee operation of both the expanded CORE team and the Mental Health Evaluation Team. Both contracts extend through March 2022. The $560,851 approved to fund both teams will come from the city’s Measure V half-cent sales tax fund to pay for, among other things, addressing homelessness issues.

The city will also have to devote one full-time police officer to the Mental Health Evaluation Team.

Separately, the county operates a Mobile Crisis Response Team that helps all police agencies in Contra Costa at no cost to those agencies.

Both the new CORE team and the new Mental Health Evaluation Team are considered pilot programs, and will be structured the same way as the previously existing units.

“Building upon an existing program is the most efficient means of enhancing services for unsheltered persons in Concord,” police Lt. Tamra Roberts told the City Council.

Roberts said these pilot programs fit in with the city’s increased emphasis on considering social and racial equity when funding and approving programs. Both programs serve a wide variety of programs and are free of charge, she said.

When Councilwoman Carlyn Obringer asked Roberts about the metrics to be used to determine whether these programs are successful, Roberts said Concord police will meet with CORE team members weekly, and that a monthly report will detail how many people got help, where those people usually are what services those people have received and/or accepted.

Police Chief Mark Bustillos said he also wants to track how many contacts his officers have with specific individuals before they accept services.