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Halfway houses | City eyes sites for homeless persons with psychiatric disorders

A facility for homeless persons with mental disability is a few steps away from being built as the City Council passed on second reading a proposed ordinance providing for a mental health program and delivery system in the city.

Councilor Mary Joselle Villafuerte, a physician who chairs the committee on health that pushed for the measure, expressed her gratitude that the Council passed the resolution on second reading yesterday after a year of committee hearings.

“This is a very momentous event. This is a landmark legislation. I think my colleagues knew that this is a very important ordinance, nobody questioned it,” Villafuerte told reporters in the sidelines of the session.

According to Villafuerte, Mayor Sara Duterte will allot P5 million to fund a mental facility for homeless people, a first in the country.

“This is the first of its kind in the country and this will become a pilot program for the whole country,” she said.

Villafuerte said that mental health professionals of the Southern Philippines Medical Center-Institute of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine (SPMC-IPBM) will help identify homeless mental health patients that may be treated inside the facility.

“Police and social workers will also assist us. These Dabawenyos are walking around the city and right now, there are no facilities for them. They are suffering from mental illness but no one can help them because there are no programs and facilities to let them in,” she said.

Villafuerte said the item will be passed on the third and final reading next session.

“The local health board supports this. All mental health professionals are also very supportive so we feel that the third and final reading will be a breeze,” Villafuerte said.

Villafuerte expressed that they will work next on the deed of usufruct so that the SPMC-IPBM may identify the site of the said facility for homeless persons with mental disability.

The councilor added that within 90 days, they expect to work with the executive department to craft the implementing rules and regulations.

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