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Board and Care Cuts Criticized : Mental health: Some owners of the homes say the reductions are making it difficult for the facilities to survive.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Owners of several Ventura County board and care homes for the mentally ill lashed out at county mental-health officials during a meeting with Supervisor John Flynn on Monday, saying the county has cut their funds while badgering them for better service.

The owners of the facilities and advocates for the mentally ill attending a monthly meeting with Flynn on mental-health issues also criticized the county Mental Health Department for failing to allocate more funds to board and care homes under a proposed housing plan.

According to the county’s Housing Resource Plan, $300,000 would be allocated for a subsidized housing program that would give mentally ill people the option of living on their own, while $80,000 is proposed for expanding services at one large board and care.

Maxine Boyd, who owns a six-bed home for the mentally ill in Oxnard, said mental-health officials have failed to see the benefit of the county’s board and care facilities.

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“I’m the one who helps rehabilitate people so they can live on their own,” Boyd said. “Yet I’ve gotten no recognition at all.”

She told about 30 people attending the meeting--including Randy Feltman, county mental health director--that many of her clients cannot make it on their own.

“I’ve had some of the most difficult clients,” she said. “Some are not able to get up, wash or even dress.”

Feltman assured the group that mental-health officials will consider its concerns before completing the housing plan later this month. He said a public hearing on the issue will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at the county’s multipurpose room, 300 Hillmont Ave. in Ventura.

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Flynn added: “No plan is going to work unless people are behind it. . . . We have to weigh the ideas. We have to continue working together here.”

The board and care facilities--which provide housing to about 250 people in Ventura County--fill an important gap, advocates say. But they also say it’s difficult to make ends meet.

Lilly Buenafe, who owns two major facilities for 118 mentally ill patients in Oxnard and Ventura, told Feltman: “If you are not going to give me any funding, leave me alone and give us respect, not just criticism and harassment.”

Buenafe announced two weeks ago that she is trying to sell her two homes, the Sandpiper Manor in Oxnard and the Santa Clara Manor in Ventura, because she is tired of hassling with county officials.

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In June, the county curtailed supplemental payments of $383 a month for each of the 30 patients referred by the county to Buenafe’s two facilities because officials said they saw little improvement in the patients’ quality of life at the homes.

The abrupt financial loss of $11,500 a month pushed Buenafe to try to sell, she said.

Feltman sat quietly, nodding his head as Buenafe spoke.

After she finished speaking, Feltman said the department has an obligation to scrutinize the board and care facilities. He said officials decided that the money they gave Buenafe could be better used elsewhere.

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“If the county is involved in spending any money, we care first about the patients,” he said. Feltman said the concerns of the board and care owners come second.

But Willie Love, owner of a six-bed board and care home in Oxnard, shot back: “We don’t need a snoop.”


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