I wanted to share some thoughts on homelessness. I have a homeless son and we’ve been through the system and there is no help for him. It’s been very disappointing. This is what I’ve been posting on various editorial sites.
Homelessness is not a one solution fits all issue. There is not one homeless population and it’s not against the law to be homeless so police can’t do anything. There are multiple populations and each population has it’s one unique needs. Here’s a simple breakdown: 1. Those kicked out of rehabs. Rehabs have no responsibility to send people back to where they came from if they break the rules. They just dump them on the street. THE LAWS OF CALIFORNIA NEED TO CHANGE TO MAKE REHABS RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR CLIENTS. Our previous Governor refused to do this. Florida has done this and it’s working. 2. Those who have serious addictions. THE LAWS OF CALIFORNIA NEED TO CHANGE. We need accountability courts that require repeat offenders into addiction rehabs. A repeat offender is someone who does not manage their addiction and breaks laws as a result such as public vagrancy, anti-camping laws, etc. If the laws change, insurance and social security can be used to cover the costs. This accounts for 64% of homeless people. 3. Those who are chronically mentally ill. THE LAWS OF CALIFORNIA NEED TO CHANGE. This population is the most resistant to help. The jail becomes the defacto psych ward. There needs to be laws that funnel this population into the right kind of help. There is a mental health court in Santa Ana for repeat offenders, but it is very limited and it’s not enough. Governor Brown was given a bill that would have made it possible for families to gain conservatorship over their mentally ill children by changing the definition of gravely disabled to include “the inability to care for their mental health.” That one line would have removed 25% of the homeless people off the streets and into full time care. Governor Brown also refused to sign a bill establishing a new mental health restraining order that would give families another tool to get care for their loved ones through accountability. Instead, he signed a bill to spend billions of dollars on programs that only serve a small amount of people. THIS POPULATION COULD BENEFIT FROM LOW INCOME PERMANENT HOUSING WITH “WRAP AROUND” SERVICES TO HELP THEM SUCCEED. There are people who will say… you can’t force them to do something they don’t want to do. I beg to differ. We force criminals to do what they don’t want to do. We force Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients to do what they don’t want to do because it’s for their safety and care. The American Psychological Association refuses to change the DSM to treat serious mental health diagnosis the same way they do Alzheimer’s or Dementia. We would never let someone with Dementia be homeless, but we do mental illness? THE LAWS NEED TO CHANGE. 4. Those who are victims of domestic violence and human trafficking. THIS IS ONE OF THE FEW POPULATIONS THAT CAN BE HELPED BY BUILDING PERMANENT LOW INCOME HOUSING. Most of this group is actively seeking help and want to be off the streets. There are already a ton of resources for them but not enough. This accounts for 25% of homeless women. 5. Those who suffer from PTSD (Veterans). THIS IS ONE OF THE FEW POPULATIONS THAT CAN BE HELPED BY BUILDING PERMANENT HOUSING AND THE MILITARY SHOULD TAKE CARE OF THEM. This should not be at the cost of local governments and cities. This should be part of the military budget to provide on base support for Veterans. This accounts for 9% of homeless people. 6. Those who are previously incarcerated. THIS IS ONE OF THE FEW POPULATIONS THAT CAN BE HELPED BY BUILDING TRANSITIONAL HOUSING. My son, who is homeless, has identified to me those who are criminals amongst the homeless population who remain homeless so they can continue their crimes. This group should be placed in jail. The ones that want to move on could benefit from help. Accounts for more than 10% of those being released from incarceration. Jails should be required to inform cities they are releasing prisoners from incarceration. THE LAW SHOULD BE CHANGED. 7. Those who simply choose to be homeless. THE LAWS OF CALIFORNIA NEED TO CHANGE. It’s not illegal to be homeless, but it should be illegal to be homeless wherever you want. Cities and property owners have rights that should be protected since we pay taxes and keep things going. If we don’t like the laws the lawmakers are making… let’s get rid of the lawmakers and vote in new ones. Gavin Newsom’s solution is to throw more money at programs that don’t work. There are places homeless people can go, public campgrounds, other places the state owns and could use without increasing our taxes. 8. Those who experience a catastrophic loss. THIS IS ONE OF THE FEW POPULATIONS THAT CAN BE HELPED BY BUILDING PERMANENT LOW INCOME HOUSING. This includes divorce, job loss, physical health, eviction (like the people being evicted in North Beach). This group will live out of their cars before they go to a homeless shelter. This group doesn’t want to be homeless and are looking for help to get out of their situation. In very few instances does the building of a HOMELESS SHELTER solve the problem. Each population needs to be addressed separately.