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PATH: Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness

The State of California has received federal homeless funds annually since 1985, initially through the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Block Grant, and beginning in state fiscal year (FY) 1991-92, through the McKinney Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) formula grant. The PATH grant funds community based outreach, mental health and substance abuse referral/treatment, case management and other support services, as well as a limited set of housing services for adults who are homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness and have a serious mental illness.

The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) distributes PATH funding to counties elected to participate in the PATH program. While local programs serve thousands of homeless persons with realignment funds and other local revenues, the PATH grant augments these programs by providing services to approximately 8,300 additional persons annually. Each county determines the use of PATH funds based on local priorities and needs. These targeted funds provide much needed services to an extremely vulnerable population throughout California.

In accordance with federal procedures, DHCS’s PATH and housing staff have developed guidelines that define the counties' responsibilities to clients who are homeless and have a mental illness. Counties receiving PATH funds must develop a service plan and budget annually for utilization of the funds. The service plan must describe each program setting and the services and activities provided as well as the estimated number of persons served. Each county that receives PATH funds has established one or more programs of outreach to, and/or services for, persons who are homeless and have a serious mental illness.

DHCS requires that all programs provide outreach and case management services.

Allowable services include:

          • Primary Service Referrals
          • Outreach
          • Habilitation and Rehabilitation
          • Community Mental Health
          • Alcohol/Drug Treatment
          • Staff Training
          • Service Coordination
          • Housing Services
          • Supportive Services
          • Screening and Diagnostic Treatment                                                          


In addition to demographic information, the PATH-funded programs also report outcomes relative to achievement of their objectives. The most fundamental goal for PATH programs is outreach and engagement to persons who would otherwise not receive services due to the combined conditions of homelessness and serious mental illness.

In an effort to improve and expand services to the homeless mentally ill, PATH staff participate in federal, state, and local groups involved in developing effective public policy related to homelessness. Other PATH staff responsibilities include providing information and education on the needs of persons who are homeless and have a mental illness, and serving as liaisons to State and local organizations. 

Mental Health Services Near You

For mental health services in your area, including other mental health and/or homeless programs, please contact your County Mental Health Department.

Additional Resources

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) PATH Program Website

SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) Website 

Contact Us

Department of Health Care Services
Mental Health Services Division
Grants Management Unit
1500 Capitol Avenue, MS 2704
Sacramento, CA 95814

Last modified on: 12/3/2018 3:54 PM