Plumas County Behavioral Health Commission voted to close the doors of the Sierra House, after a yearlong deliberation by a commission working group. The vote passed during the commission’s regular meeting last month.
The board and care facility for county residents with severe and persistent mental health issues was a unique feather in the county’s behavioral health department. There is only one other county in California that runs a service like it, but Behavioral Health Director Dr. Tony Hobson said there are so few for a good reason.
The house has had lists of deferred maintenance, including a leaking roof and ADA compliance issues. The commission strategized ways to attend to the maintenance problems, but the last fiscal year’s budget showed that there were not enough funds to address the extent of the necessary repairs and remodeling.
On top of the needed repairs, Hobson said the county’s operation of the house opened up liability risks. Most counties in the state contract out to specialists who can run group homes like the Sierra House.
“It is better to give operations like that to people who specialize in it,” said Hobson.
The house is still licensed as a board and care facility for the mentally ill, but it has been empty for most of the summer. At the time the vote passed, there were only three residents and a few full-time staff at the Sierra House. Hobson said the residents have moved to home care, and one moved to a different site in Chico.
“The facility served the community well for a very long time, but deferred maintenance just caused issue after issue,” said Hobson.
Hobson said demand for the house has slowly depleted over the years as well. The goal with severe mental health cases is in home care, so the residence numbers have depleted as those goals have been obtained.
The future for the house is uncertain. Hobson said there might be money from the No Place Like Home Program to initiate the repairs and potentially open a housing aid facility, but that is dependent on the funding.
“We may do something with the facility, and we may not,” he said.