LA County Offers $236 Million to Settle Homeless Lawsuit, Vows to Partner With City of Los Angeles

County settles major 2020 lawsuit with the LA Alliance for Human Rights, agrees to provide more help for homeless

Los Angeles County has settled a major lawsuit addressing homeless people living in poor conditions on Skid Row, and will now team up with the City of Los Angeles to create a one-two punch in which the city builds shelters and permanent housing and the county provides wraparound services, officials announced Monday.

On Monday Sept. 12, the county signed a settlement agreement with the plaintiff, LA Alliance for Human Rights, three months after the city settled.

The county’s agreement is expected to be accepted by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter within 30 days. Though still unofficial, the two sides are anticipating his approval of the agreement, and are planning how the new county dollars will help some of L.A. County’s 69,000 unhoused people to move into housing.

Matthew Umhofer, attorney for the LA Alliance, a coalition of the homeless, those living in poverty, those on the edge of homeless, property owners and small businesses, said at a press conference downtown, “We fought for our clients, and yes, at times we fought against the city and the county. But we’ve fought for our brothers and sisters on the streets and for the soul of this city and county.”

In March 2020 the Alliance filed an unprecedented lawsuit accusing the city and county of inaction that led to encampments, creating a dangerous environment for both businesses and residents in the 50-block Skid Row area of downtown Los Angeles.

In an unusual action, U.S. District Court Judge Carter in April 2021 set a timeline for the city and county to shelter people living in Skid Row, and for the city to put aside $1 billion to address the crisis. His order, to begin sheltering people by Oct. 18, 2021, was never implemented, as the county and city fought the Alliance lawsuit.

In an appeal in late September 2021, a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Hawaii vacated Judge Carter’s order, finding that the order lacked legal standing and that Carter, who had visited the homeless in person and conducted interviews, had “impermissibly resorted to independent research and extra-record evidence.”

The lawsuit gained considerable public attention, including impromptu public hearings near homeless encampments attended by L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and other elected officials. At first, the city and county attorneys fought the lawsuit, saying the Alliance’s use of the court’s power was “overbroad and unmanageable” and was an attempt to usurp the role of local government.

That changed in June when the city agreed in a court settlement to spend about $3 billion to develop up to 16,000 beds or housing units for non-mentally ill members of the homeless population.

The county added its own settlement offer Monday, for which the ink was not yet dry, said Fesia Davenport, L.A. County’s chief executive officer.

Under its settlement, L.A. County will spend $236 million through June 2027, said Los Angeles County Second District Supervisor Holly Mitchell. Of that, $74 million will go to homeless engagement services and $162 million will go to dedicated permanent housing, she said.

Garcetti said that while the lawsuit was contentious, the city and county have been working to battle homelessness for eight years by bringing shelter to 130,000 unhoused people. “The problem has been we need to ramp up the pace,” Garcetti said on Monday.

Officials from both branches of local government said the lawsuit and resulting settlements acted as a catalyst that brought the two government entities together with a common goal and complementary resources.

City officials who spoke at the press conference Monday welcomed the county’s partnership, saying the city does not have services to help newly housed people thrive, such as mental health programs, substance abuse disorder treatment, job placement counselors or child daycare services. The city will rely on the county to provide those services, helping people make it in new housing, or preventing those on the edge from becoming homeless.

“The city can construct housing. The county can provide services for people in that housing,” said Matt Szabo, L.A.’s city administrative officer.

“This is what this agreement binds us to do,” Szabo said. “It sets a standard I hope we can build upon and use as a template moving forward.”

The five-year settlement will add more homeless outreach team members and mental health beds, said Umhofer. It will be overseen by Judge Carter. “This provides real accountability,” Umhofer said.

Some questioned if the county’s allocation was enough.

For example, the money from the county would increase mental health beds by 300, a number that L.A. City Councilman Kevin de Leon said was not enough — but a start. “Skid Row is an embarrassment for this city, the county and this country,” he said, adding that the deaths of many homeless from drug overdoses is a scar on Los Angeles.

Supervisor Mitchell said the new settlement is a small fraction of what the county has already spent, including $532 million from Measure H, a tax that raised money for housing the homeless. And the county has put $400 million from federal American Rescue Plan grants into helping homeless individuals.

Click here to read the full article at the LA Daily News

Sacramento Drug-Addicted Transients Taking Over Neighborhoods While City Fiddles

Kate Tibbitts’ horrific murder remains on locals’ psyches, but seems to be a far-away, inconvenient memory for local politicians

The City of Sacramento has a big problem, and it isn’t the “existential threat of climate change.”

Narcotics, burglary, aggravated assault, battery, vandalism, and weapon-related crimes are now commonplace in residential neighborhoods where new moms push strollers on daily walks, kids bicycle to baseball practice, runners prepare for the next marathon, elderly groups do tai chi together, neighbors walk their dogs, and families picnic.

“Open drug use has worsened in the Broadway area of Land Park recently, according to neighbors who say they are upset about a lack of action to combat lawlessness,” KCRA 3 reported this weekend. Only this isn’t a recent problem – it’s been building exponentially, and since Mayor Darrell Steinberg was elected in 2016.

Is this a case of bad timing for Steinberg or a case of bad policy and politics?

As the Globe reported last week, “The latest Starbucks casualty is in Sacramento, along the Broadway corridor, wrought with blocks of homeless transients, escalating crime, and legitimate safety concerns for the residents and business owners who live and work there.”

The Sacramento Land Park neighborhood is also where long time resident Kate Tibbitts was brutally murdered in her home by a parolee. Last fall “homeless” transient Troy Davis, out on the streets despite his recent parole violation, raped and murdered downtown Sacramento resident Kate Tibbitts, in the Land Park neighborhood, killing her dogs and setting her house on fire,” the Globe reported.

Tibbitts horrific murder remains a fresh imprint on locals’s psyche, but seems to be a far-away, inconvenient memory for local politicians.

This past weekend, this transient man was making such a scene tossing trash at the now-closed Starbucks on Broadway, the police were called. He has an ankle bracelet on.

This is video of his mania taken by a local resident: 91C91B8B-21CD-46E4-BDC2-BA2717D39AFCAnd this video.

KCRA received a statement from Councilwoman Katie Valenzuela:

“The police have gotten more resources than they ever had before – $47m additional in just the last two budgets. Despite that increase in funding our crime has gone up, because the issues here are not about enforcement. We will not see a decrease in crime until we start prioritizing the reasons people commit crimes: drug and mental health treatment, affordable housing, economic opportunity.”

Many in the city dispute Valenzuela’s claim of $47M additional funding for SacPD. The budget includes money for pensions, police equipment, and other non-officer spending. SacPd is still seriously understaffed. Sacramento had more police officers on the street in 2008 than we do today in 2022, and the city population has grown significantly since then. Sac Fire’s budget has also increased, but nobody complains about that.

Councilwoman Valenzuela continues to blame police, but now at least admits that drug addiction and mental health is a large part of the crimes by homeless transients. But mouthing the words isn’t enough for the Councilwoman facing a recall election.

In April, the Globe reported “Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, together with Democratic state lawmakers and ‘criminal justice reform’ advocates, held a press conference and demanded $3 billion ‘for immediate and substantial investments in crime prevention and healing services for crime victims.’ Their demand follows the weekend [gang] shooting in Sacramento which left 6 dead and 12 injured.”

Steinberg has demanded a lot of state and federal funding since he took over the Mayor’s office in 2016. It seems to be all he knows how to do – demand and spend, and we don’t really know where the money is spent with so many questionable NGOs and non-profits attached to city government.

Steinberg created the non-profit Steinberg Institute in 2015 while still a State Senator, just prior to leaving the California Senate, to help the mentally-ill: “Since its inception in January 2015, the institute has helped enact sweeping improvements in California mental health policy, including securing $2 billion to provide housing and care for homeless people living with brain illness,” the website says.

Has the Steinberg Institute spent $2 billion helping the mentally-ill, creating housing and funding crime prevention? The odds are no, they have not. We are betting that $2 billion isn’t going to the mentally ill, drug addicted homeless transients living on Sacramento streets.

With Steinberg at the April press event following the downtown gang shooting were gun control and defund-the-police advocates:

Advocates used the opportunity to call for more state funding for crime prevention, cash assistance to victims and survivors of violent crime, and “interventions around gun violence.” However, the advocates for interventions around gun violence offered no specific solutions – just funding. Maybe these groups are where Steinberg’s demand for funding end up.

After another deadly shooting downtown in July, Mayor Steinberg announced the “investments” he was making to make Downtown Sacramento more safe:

  • increased our minimum patrol staffing on Saturdays
  • bike officers now work until 3 a.m. on weekends
  • Officers in the entertainment unit are also working until 3 a.m., focusing on hotspots in downtown and midtown
  • Additional officers have now been directed to patrol parking lots near nightclubs to make sure they aren’t used by people getting in fights or engaging in illegal activity
  • an additional funding allocation from City Council pays for two foot patrol officers every day

This is nice and already should already be standard operating procedure.

Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher suggested a different tact last Spring:

  • End the Early Release of Violent Felons
  • Restore Stiff Penalties for Gun & Gang Crimes
  • Disarm & Penalize Felons with Guns

Those policies would make a difference.

As for the downtown neighbors and the Land Park neighborhood, Land Park Community Association vice president Kristina Rogers told KCRA, “We’ve got people dealing drugs, and shooting up, and having crazy episodes in front of children … I keep hearing about revitalization in this area, and this is what we’re getting instead.”

Click here to read the full article at the California Globe

L.A. Voters to Decide Whether Hotels Must Rent Vacant Rooms to Homeless People

A controversial measure that would require hotels in Los Angeles to rent vacant rooms to homeless people will go before voters in 2024, the City Council decided Friday.

The council rejected an option that would have skipped the public vote and enacted the ordinance directly, instead voting 12 to 0 to send the measure to the ballot. The initiative is backed by the hospitality worker union Unite Here Local 11, which had gathered enough signatures to place it before voters.

Friday’s council vote sets the stage for a protracted public battle over the measure, with L.A. voters having the ultimate say in 19 months. The hotel industry will probably mount vigorous opposition to the ballot measure. A number of progressive community and housing groups have backed it alongside Unite Here.

The proposal comes as city officials are gradually closing one of the signature programs set up to address homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic: Project Roomkey, which turned multistory hotels into makeshift shelters. A number of the Project Roomkey sites have already closed.

Hotel owners and operators made up a large contingent of the packed council chamber, with many arguing that the proposal would unfairly burden hotels and hurt their ability to do business.

A handful of hotel workers spoke in support of the measure, while some others opposed it.

Under the proposal, hotels would be required to regularly report the number of vacant rooms they have to the city’s housing department. A program run through the department would then make referrals and pay “fair market rate” for the lodging using prepaid vouchers. Hotels would be prohibited from discriminating against homeless Angelenos “for their participation in this program, or the fact or perception, that they are unhoused.”

That proposed voucher program has no designated source of funding and would be contingent on funding being secured by July 1, 2023, according to a report from the city attorney’s office.

Unite Here Local 11 spokesperson Maria Hernandez said the voucher program would set up a system for utilizing various funding streams.

“Just like with Project Roomkey, there are federal, state and local sources of funding for emergency housing, and this initiative creates a new option for using those funds to get people into housing immediately,” Hernandez said. “There are also nonprofits, churches and other private sources that are interested in buying vouchers to house those in need.”

The measure would also have significant land-use implications for new hotel development.

During his public comment, Northeast Los Angeles Hotel Owners Assn. President Ray Patel asked all the hotel owners in the room to stand up, saying their operations would be dramatically affected if the proposal was directly approved. Patel, who owns Welcome Inn in Eagle Rock, urged the city to instead use Project Roomkey’s voluntary participation as a model.

“Hotels would gladly volunteer their hotels to participate in programs as long as there’s a wraparound service, which includes mental health service, social service, 24-hour security and somebody’s there to hold their hand and help them get into permanent housing,” Patel said.

Several speakers also raised concerns about the lack of details regarding how the sweeping proposal would work.

“We have no economic data about what it will cost the city,” Stuart Waldman, president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Assn., said, noting the lack of funding source and the fact that rates had not yet been set for hotel rooms.

“Hotels did not cause the homeless problem. Hotels are not the solution for the homeless problem,” Waldman said to loud applause in the council chamber.

Richard Earle, a representative of independent hospitality insurance brokerage Petra Risk Solutions, was one of several speakers who said the program would reduce hotels’ ability to procure and maintain insurance.

“Insurance carriers will legitimately pull coverage,” Earle said. “The business is underwritten with risks that involve guests and business travelers, not residents who bring a whole set of separate implications.”

But Carly Kirchen, an organizer with Unite Here Local 11, argued that hotel operators and associations were being unfairly prejudiced against homeless Angelenos.

“The hotel operators would have you believe that every person experiencing homelessness is so sick that they are a danger to the people around them. But this myth argument misrepresents who is actually experiencing homelessness,” Kirchen said, noting that hotel workers are among those most affected by the housing crisis, with thousands of their members facing eviction.

“Even as a union member with a good-paying job, I was recently homeless due to the housing crisis in our city,” said Bambian Taft, who identified herself as a hotel minibar attendant and former housekeeper. Taft said she had recently paid out of pocket to stay at hotels with her daughters when there was “no work for me at the hotel.”

Click here to read the full article at the LA Times

Gov. Newsom Reacts After Federal Judge Says Caltrans Cannot Clear Bay Area Homeless Camp

Governor Gavin Newsom criticized a Friday federal court ruling that temporarily stopped the California Department of Transportation from clearing a homeless encampment in Oakland. Caltrans announced last week that it planned to clear 200 unhoused people from a sprawling homeless encampment on Oakland’s Wood Street. The agency cited dangerous conditions that have led to numerous fires, including one in early July that damaged vehicles on Interstate 880. Caltrans officials had planned to empty the camp by Aug. 1, with the first phase beginning July 20.

But ahead of the proposed start, Judge William H. Orrick issued a temporary restraining order, prohibiting Caltrans officials from entering and clearing the encampment. On Friday morning, Orrick extended the restraining order and said that state officials could not clear the camp until they have a comprehensive resettlement plan. “I’m really surprised and a little disturbed that the city and the county and Caltrans seem to be at the beginning stages of thinking about what happens as opposed to much further along,” Orrick said at a hearing via Zoom, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Newsom’s office, in its statement, said the delay in clearing the camp would “endanger the public.” “Our roadways and highways are no place for individuals to live, and this encampment is risking public health and safety,” the statement said. “The state provided $4.7 million in grants to the City of Oakland specifically to rehouse individuals at the Wood Street encampment. It is beyond time to meet this moment and address this challenge.” Caltrans’ camp clearing procedures have long faced pushback from homeless advocates across the state.

Click here to read the full article in the Sacramento Bee

Homeless Count Up 10% in San Diego County. ‘More Miserable Out There Than I Have Seen In Years’

The numbers have confirmed what many already suspected.

Homelessness has increased in San Diego County, and it’s especially apparent in several cities where tents and makeshift structures fill sidewalks, canyons and freeway offramps.

Results of the first homeless count in two years, released Thursday, found the number of people living in vehicles or outdoors without shelter increased 9 percent in the city of San Diego. In Oceanside, where city officials have introduced a hotel voucher program and plan to open a shelter, the number of people on the street increased 31 percent. In National City, where the San Diego Rescue Mission plans to open a shelter next year, the number of people living without shelter increased 19 percent.

In all, homelessness in San Diego County has increased 10 percent since January 2020, according to the report released by the San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness. The actual number is likely much higher, officials said, and it could worsen as pandemic housing subsidies and protections expire.

The Feb. 24 count found 8,427 homeless people in San Diego County, with just over half in shelters. The other 4,106 were living outside of shelters, a 3 percent increase from 2020. Of that number, 713 were in vehicles.

The count usually is done annually, but this was the first since January 2020 because of the pandemicand it showed the crisis persists despite increased efforts to get more people off the street.

Since the last count, the city has purchased two extended-stay hotels and converted them to permanent housing for more than 400 formerly homeless people, Father Joe’s Villages has opened a 407-unit affordable housing project, and the city and county have worked together to increase outreach teams and other efforts.

“But even with all of that, our numbers have increased,” said Tamera Kohler, president and CEO of the Regional Task Force on Homelessness, the agency that coordinates the count.

“We have more people, we have more unsheltered, we have more challenges, and it is a little bit more miserable out there than I have seen in years.”

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said he wasn’t surprised at the increase.

“We see this with our own eyes every single day,” he said, adding that the pandemic likely contributed to the increased homeless population, which is happening throughout the state.

“The numbers could have been larger, frankly,” Gloria said.

Like Kohler, Gloria noted that the increase in homelessness happened despite many efforts to address it, but he is hopeful that new programs, more shelter beds and additional housing will improve next year’s numbers.

The city has added 271 shelter beds in the past year, a 25 percent increase, bringing the total to 1,468. An additional 450 beds are coming in the next few months, including a 125-bed shelter in the Midway area, a 40-bed women’s shelter and a 182-bed shelter for seniors and families that will be in two sites that have not yet been announced.

“Now, is it enough?” Gloria said. “No, it’s not. But I think it demonstrates a commitment with the city to acknowledge the problem.”

Of the 4,321 people counted in shelters in this year’s report, 3,036 people were in emergency shelters such as the large tents operated by the Alpha Project, 1,249 were in transitional housing and 36 in a safe-haven, temporary housing for people in rehab programs.

As usual, the city of San Diego had the largest population of homeless people in the county, with 2,307 people in shelters and 2,494 living without shelter.

Click here to read the full article in the San Diego Union Tribune

Broken Homes

San Francisco spends millions of dollars to shelter its most vulnerable residents in dilapidated hotels. With little oversight or support, the results are disastrous.

For two years, this has been Pauline Levinson’s home:

A run-down, century-old hotel in the Tenderloin, where a rodent infestation became so severe that she pitched a tent inside her room to keep the mice away.

Where residents have threatened each other with knives, crowbars and guns, sometimes drawing police to the building several times a day.

Where, since 2020, at least nine people have died of drug overdoses. One man was discovered only after a foul stench seeped from his room into the hall.

Levinson is one of thousands of poor, sick or highly vulnerable people left to languish and at times die in unstable, underfunded and understaffed residential hotel rooms overseen by a city department that reports directly to Mayor London Breed, a yearlong investigation by The San Francisco Chronicle found.

Pauline Levinson sheds tears while talking about life at the Jefferson Hotel on Eddy Street in the Tenderloin.

At the Jefferson Hotel, Pauline Levinson has coped with rodents, violence and neighbors dying of overdoses. Scott Strazzante/The Chronicle

In a complex arrangement, the city’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, or HSH, pays nonprofit groups to provide rooms and aid to formerly homeless people in about 70 single-room-occupancy hotels, known as SROs, which the nonprofits generally lease from private landlords. The buildings are the cornerstone of a $160 million program called permanent supportive housing, which is supposed to help people rebuild their lives after time on the streets.

But because San Francisco leaders have for years neglected the hotels and failed to meaningfully regulate the nonprofits that operate them, many of the buildings — which house roughly 6,000 people — have descended into a pattern of chaos, crime and death, the investigation found. Critically, the homelessness crisis in San Francisco has worsened.

To understand why more and more people are homeless despite a broad and expensive push to house them, Chronicle reporters obtained tens of thousands of pages of inspection records, incident reports, city contracts, police records and internal city emails through the California Public Records Act. They spent months interviewing more than 150 supportive housing tenants and employees — many of them in buildings operated by the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, the city’s biggest nonprofit SRO operator — and observing conditions in 16 hotels.

Among the findings:

• HSH says its goal is to provide some residents with enough stability to enter more independent housing. But of the 515 tenants tracked by the government after they left permanent supportive housing in 2020, a quarter died while in the program — exiting by passing away, city data shows. An additional  21% returned to homelessness, and 27% left for an “unknown destination.” Only about a quarter found stable homes, mostly by moving in with friends or family or into another taxpayer-subsidized building.

• At least 166 people fatally overdosed in city-funded hotels in 2020 and 2021 — 14% of all confirmed overdose deaths in San Francisco, though the buildings housed less than 1% of the city’s population. The Chronicle compiled its own database of fatal overdoses, cross-referencing records from the medical examiner’s office with supportive housing SRO addresses, because HSH said it did not comprehensively track overdoses in its buildings.

Click here to read the full article at the SF Chronicle

Sacramento Currently Spending $44 Million on Growing Homeless

The City of Sacramento is spending more than $44 million to provide eight homeless shelters and camping options, most not yet built or ready, and three Project Homekey motel conversions. According to city officials, “most of that comes from state and federal grants that are not certain year to year.”

This homeless spending comes on the heels of city residents learning that waste collection services are going up drastically: 4.0% increase for recycling, 4.50% increase for garbage, 20.50% increase lawn and garden, and 7.0% increase for street sweeping.

Senate Bill 1383, authored by then-Sen. Ricardo Lara and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2016,  requires organic waste (food waste) be recycled to reduce methane, “climate pollutants” and greenhouse gas emissions in landfills.

Sacramento County has more than 11,000 homeless living on the streets and in the parks, and all shelter beds and spaces are full on any given night.

The Mayor and City Council now calls Sacramento’s drug-addicted, mentally ill homeless vagrant population the “unhoused,” “people experiencing homelessness,” “guests,” and “our unhoused neighbors,” as if these really are our neighbors who were just one paycheck away from living on the streets. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Despite the uncertainty of ongoing funding, the City is planning on these various shelters into 2023. “We think for 2023 we have pulled together the funds to cover the shelter piece, from both the State Homeless Housing Assistance and Prevention (HHAP) grants and by redirecting some funds within the Department of Community Response budget.

While the city’s total siting plan involves 20 potential sites, City staff said they are currently focusing efforts on eight sites, “that have shown the most potential for development and activation. Some of these sites have been added to the plan in recent months.”

This is the status of the eight proposed and existing homeless sites:

  • Joshua’s House is a private hospice facility not yet built on a city-owned lot in North Sacramento. The developer recently applied for a permit and the site could be up and running late this year.
  • Miller Park Safe Ground is a 60-tent low barrier shelter has been opened since Feb. 8. It has already served approximately 140 people, 25 of whom have moved on into positive settings.
  • Auburn Boulevard Respite Center is sited at the former Science Center Museum. It is in use now as administrative space for Hope Cooperative and Department of Community Response outreach teams. It is ready to be used as a respite center for adverse weather conditions.
  • North 5th Street is an existing 104-bed shelter which, under the siting plan, has been expanded to 145 beds and will add another 18 in July for a total of 163.
  • Downtown Service Hub is an unnamed location that is the subject of ongoing negotiations to purchase the building and use it as a central hub for homeless and the service providers who work with them.
  • Colfax Yard is a vacant city-owned vacant lot not yet ready for official use being used now as an unsanctioned parking spot by homeless. The State Water Board ordered an environmental clean up  for longer-term, sanctioned safe parking. The homeless there now will need to vacate.
  • Roseville Road RT Station is currently used unofficially by homeless parking vehicles. The city is working on a three-way agreement among the City, RT and Cal Trans. When completed, that agreement will allow between 50 and 70 vehicles to safely park there.
  • The 102-acre Job Corp site was recently purchased as federal surplus land, not accessible yet. In the short term, the site requires new road access and other improvements before part of it could serve as a safe parking site.

Currently available shelter for homeless totals 164 spots according to this list – 104 actual beds, and 60 tents in a public park.

Sacramento has more than the 11,222 homeless people accounted for Sacramento in 2019-2020. Where are they sleeping? We don’t know how many are sleeping in their cars in designated parking lots, and other default parking locations.

Again not yet ready or opened are three Project Homekey motel conversions, La Mancha, Vista Nueva, and Central Sacramento, the City is working on with the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency on, expected to provide more than 300 rooms to be used mostly as supportive and transitional housing.

Last month the Globe reported that Sacramento city manager Howard Chan warned the City Council that future funding for the city’s existing homeless shelters was uncertain, even as the City Council was pushing to open more large homeless sites to address Sacramento’s growing homelessness crisis.

Click here to read the full article at the California Globe

Republicans Act On Homelessness Where Democrats Have Failed

The progressive experiment is failing in California. Take a walk around any of the cities controlled by Democrats here and you’ll see dozens of homeless encampments, feces, and heroin needles littering sidewalks and streets.

Despite containing only 12% of the nation’s population, California is home to a whopping 28% of its homeless, and an astronomical 47% of its unsheltered homeless. Since 2018, the state has thrown $17 billion at homelessness and the problem has only continued to grow.

Under more than a decade of complete Democratic control of state government, California’s approach on this issue has been disjointed and scattershot.

Democratic ideas to address homelessness have failed – evidence of that failure is visible to anyone who witnesses the suffering that has taken over our streets. In Gov. Gavin Newsom’s own words, Democrats have been “as dumb as they want to be” when it comes to homelessness.

Still, their “plan” to address homelessness is to simply carry on the same ineffective programs but spend more money. If we continue in their direction, we can only expect to see continued worsening results.

It is time to look at new ideas instead of doubling down on failed ones.

That’s why Legislative Republicans have introduced a comprehensive package of more than a dozen bills to ACT on homelessness, now. These bills prioritize accountability, compassion and treatment. Specifically, they demand accountability from our leaders, focus resources on housing and shelter accessibility, mental health and substance abuse assistance, and provide support for people at risk of becoming homeless.

Our first set of bills will bring accountability to homelessness programs and ensure funding gets to programs that actually keep people off the street and deliver the help they need. Californians cannot afford to continue providing blank checks with no results. Our proposals would require the governor to make an annual report to the Legislature on his homelessness efforts and begin a long-overdue audit of state homelessness spending and outcomes.

California has spent billions on housing efforts for the homeless population – yet those programs have failed. That’s why Legislative Republicans have proposed measures to support programs that help keep people off the streets and help those in the cycle of homelessness grow beyond the shelter walls. The Republican plan will streamline shelter construction, protect faith-based organizations that provide shelter and fund local government efforts to increase shelter capacity.

Ignoring mental health and substance use disorders within the homeless population is the furthest thing from compassionate. Californians in every community of this state see streets littered with needles and walk past those who struggle to grasp reality. Legislative Republicans want to bring real compassion to the homelessness crisis and ensure those who need help will receive it. Among our proposals are bills to provide addiction services for the homeless using opioid settlement funds, provide prompt treatment to people having a mental health crisis and ensure those with severe mental illness are placed into treatment instead of left on our streets.

While every homeless person comes to homelessness in their own way, we know certain groups – former foster youth, veterans, the mentally ill, the addicted, domestic violence victims, and the recently incarcerated – are at far greater risk than the general population. However, California’s prevention programs, to the degree they exist, show little evidence of success or accountability.

Republicans plan to help these populations break the cycle of homelessness, overcome adversity, and find and keep employment within the state. Republican proposals will create incentive and training programs to provide at-risk youth with employment opportunities and establish reentry programs for jail inmates at risk of becoming homeless upon their release.

Homelessness is all around us, and getting worse despite the continued empty promises from Capitol Democrats. Their ‘money solves everything’ approach is failing spectacularly, but they refuse to see it.

Click here to read the full article at the OC Register

Newsom Mental Health Plan Needs Full Airing

Beginning in the 19th century and continuing well into the 20th, California maintained an extensive network of state mental hospitals to which people deemed to be dangers to themselves or others were committed, often for decades.

In the mid-20th century, however, the concept of involuntary commitments came under fire with critics saying that the hospitals were more like prisons than treatment centers, with their patients denied basic civil rights.

The upshot was legislation, signed by Ronald Reagan shortly after he became governor in 1967, with a declared goal to “end the inappropriate, indefinite, and involuntary commitment of persons with mental health disorders.”

The Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, named for Republican Assemblyman Frank Lanterman and Democratic Senators Nick Petris and Alan Short, set forth an elaborate process that would have to be followed for involuntary commitments, limiting them to the profoundly disabled.

Companion legislation was aimed at replacing the hospitals with community-based mental health programs. The package drew support from those who wanted to reduce the hefty costs of the hospitals, such as Reagan, and advocates for the rights of the mentally ill.

It never worked out as planned because successor governors and legislators didn’t provide enough financial support for local mental health services and the process for commitment essentially allowed the mentally ill to refuse treatment.

One by one, the state hospitals were closed, some converted to other uses, such as California State University Channel Islands in Camarillo, and others razed.

In some measure — we’ll never know how much — what followed the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act contributed to California’s explosion of homelessness, because many of those living on the streets of the state’s cities are severely mentally ill.

The debate over the situation has raged for years, pitting those who believe that forcing the mentally ill into treatment is a regrettable necessity against those who contend that involuntary commitments violate civil rights.

Click here to read the full article at CalMatters

CA’s Governor Wants Mental Health Courts For Homeless People

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California’s governor unveiled a plan Thursday to create mental health courts in every county, allowing treatment for more homeless people with severe mental health and addiction disorders but also compelling some of them into care, a move that many advocates of homeless people oppose as a violation of civil rights.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a press conference that he has no intention of rounding people up and locking them away. Instead, he said his plan would offer a way for people to get court-ordered psychiatric treatment, medication and housing, preferably before they are arrested.

Under the plan, which requires approval by the Legislature, all counties would have to set up a mental health branch in civil court and provide comprehensive and community-based treatment to those suffering from debilitating psychosis. People need not be homeless to be evaluated by a court.

But if approved, they would be obligated to accept the care or risk criminal charges, if those are pending, and if not, they would be subject to being held in psychiatric programs involuntarily or lengthier conservatorships in which the court appoints a person to make health decisions for someone who cannot.

“There’s no compassion stepping over people in the streets and sidewalks,” Newsom told reporters at a briefing at a mental health treatment facility in San Jose. “We could hold hands, have a candlelight vigil, talk about the way the world should be, or we could take some damn responsibility to implement our ideas and that’s what we’re doing differently here.”

Newsom, a Democrat and former mayor of San Francisco, has made homelessness and housing a focus of his administration. Last year, the Legislature approved $12 billion for new housing and treatment beds for the homeless and this year Newsom has proposed an additional $2 billion, primarily to shelter people suffering from psychosis, schizophrenia and other behavioral health disorders.

It was not immediately clear how much the program might cost, although Newsom proposed in his budget this year more money for mental health services. He has called distressing behavior on the streets heartbreaking and maddening and says residents are right to complain that government is not doing enough.

People with addiction issues or mental health disorders often pinball among various public agencies, namely hospitals, court and jail. There is no one place that manages the person’s health, offering steady and safe housing combined with resource intensive care and California, like the rest of the country, suffers from a shortage of treatment beds.

Cities and states across the country are grappling with growing homelessness, as well as mental health crises. Nearly a quarter of California’s estimated 161,000 unhoused residents have a severe mental illness, according to a 2020 count of homeless people required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Nationally, the figure was just over 20% of an estimated 580,000 unhoused residents.

Newsom’s plan could apply to an estimated 7,000 to 12,000 people, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency.

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