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CA governor’s mental health care plan for homeless advances

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s controversial proposal to steer homeless folks with extreme mental issues into remedy cleared the state Assembly on Tuesday and is on its method to changing into legislation regardless of objections from civil liberties advocates who worry it is going to be used to drive unhoused residents into care they don’t need.

Homeless folks with extreme mental health issues usually cycle among the many streets, jail and hospitals, with nobody entity accountable for their well-being. They may be held towards their will at a psychiatric hospital for as much as 72 hours. But as soon as stabilized, an individual who agrees to proceed taking medicine and comply with up on providers should be launched.

The invoice the state Assembly permitted on Tuesday by a 60-2 vote would require counties to arrange a particular civil courtroom to course of petitions introduced by household, first responders and others on behalf of a person identified with specified issues, akin to schizophrenia and different psychiatric issues.

The courtroom might order a plan lasting as much as 12 months, and renewable for one other 12 months. An particular person going through a felony cost might keep away from punishment by finishing a mental health remedy plan. An individual who doesn’t conform to a remedy plan might be compelled into it. Newsom has mentioned he hopes these courts catch folks earlier than they fall into the felony courtroom system.

The invoice represents a brand new strategy for California to deal with homelessness, a disaster the state has struggled with for a long time. The state authorities spends billions of {dollars} on the problem every year, solely for the general public to understand little progress on the streets.

“I believe that this bill is an opportunity for us to write a new narrative,” mentioned Assemblymember Mike Gipson, a Democrat who voted for the invoice.

The invoice has now handed each homes of the state Legislature and wishes yet another vote within the state Senate earlier than it would go to Newsom’s desk. Newsom has till the top of September to signal it into legislation.

The proposal had broad help from lawmakers who mentioned it was clear California needed to do one thing concerning the mental health disaster seen alongside highways and in metropolis streets. Supporters relayed harrowing tales of watching family members cycle out and in of momentary psychiatric holds, with out a mechanism to stabilize them in a long-term remedy plan.

Republican Assemblymember Suzette Martinez Valladares mentioned her cousin, a Vietnam War veteran, had been residing on the streets in a homeless camp earlier than his loss of life.

“I wish that my family had the tools that this bill is going to bring forward so that he might still be alive and with us,” she mentioned. “This is going to save lives. It’s about time.”

Critics of the laws have maintained that the state lacks sufficient houses, remedy beds, outreach staff and therapists to care for those that need assist, by no means thoughts folks compelled to take it. They say that individuals who select to just accept remedy are more likely to succeed than these coerced into it.

“At what point does compassion end and our desire to just get people off the streets and out of our public sight begins?” mentioned Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, a Democrat who mentioned he reluctantly supported the invoice on Tuesday. “I don’t think this is a great bill. But it seems to be the best idea that we have at this point to try to improve a godawful situation.”

The invoice says Glenn, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, San Francisco, Stanislaus, and Tuolumne counties should set up courts by Oct. 1, 2023, with the rest by Dec. 1, 2024.

Courts might positive counties as much as $1,000 a day for non-compliance, which counties consider is unfair in the event that they don’t have sufficient help from the state in the best way of housing and behavioral health staff.

“There will be no perfect solution to this problem. But this is better than doing nothing and it is too easy in a democracy to kick a problem down the road and do nothing,” mentioned Assemblymember Steve Bennett, a Democrat who voted for the invoice.


Har reported from San Francisco.

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