Contra Costa County has secured a $6 million grant to expand its holistic intervention partnership (HIP) over the next three years.

The program, administered by the public defender’s office and the Health, Housing and Homeless Service department, received the grant from the California Board of State and Community Corrections.

The grants typically go to criminal and civil attorneys, social workers and non-lawyer specialists, to assist people in contact with law enforcement officers. The money helps them with underlying issues such as unstable housing, substance use disorders, immigration issues, public benefits, and other issues.

The county launched the pilot program in June 2020. It brings together an integrated, multidisciplinary team of public agencies and community-based organizations.

The county said in a statement the HIP team is committed to providing support to those involved in the criminal legal system to improve outcomes for indigent county residents who struggle with mental illness, substance dependence and homelessness.

The new, expanded funding will include significant dedicated funds to preserve or provide housing for the estimated 35 percent of public defender clients who are unhoused or at risk of being unhoused.

Almost half of the grant’s budget is earmarked for housing staffing and resources, which provides direct dollars for permanent and short-term housing for impacted people.

Officials say HIP is an effective tool to support the county’s most vulnerable residents while reducing incarceration and increasing public safety. The new award will provide a substantially expanded and enhanced array of resources, including immediate legal representation, civil legal advocacy, and community-based services for at least 900 people over three years.

“We are so grateful that, with this state grant, we will be able to expand access to critical legal, housing, mental health and reentry services to support those involved in our criminal legal system and ensure that they have the resources that they need in order to be successful in our community,” said Chief Public Defender Ellen McDonnell, in a statement.

The award is funded through revenues generated by Proposition 47, a 2014 voter-approved initiative reducing penalties for some nonviolent crimes from felonies to misdemeanors and directed the state incarceration savings to be used to increase community-based resources in jurisdictions throughout California.