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Governor Signs Conservatorship Bill to Address State’s Growing Homeless Population

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SACRAMENTO -- People are living on Sacramento’s streets who are quite literally too mentally ill or too affected by drugs to be able to function.

It’s something Noel Kammermann, executive director at Loaves and Fishes, sees every day.

“What we’re seeing is people who have not had access to regular medical, mental health or substance abuse care or treatment,” Kammermann told FOX40.

It’s the portion of the homeless population in the most extreme need of help and there is an idea to help that Gov. Gavin Newsom made into law Wednesday.

Some say the idea itself is extreme. It’s called conservatorship. State Senator Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, wrote the law.

“This is for a small percentage of people,” Wiener said. “But for that small percentage of people, these are people who are dying on our streets.”

The idea of conservatorship is that county public health officials can make decisions forcing certain homeless people without their consent into housing and treatment programs.

Only people who have been placed on psychiatric hold eight times or more a year would be eligible and even then, they would get a chance to defend themselves through an attorney in court.

Some say it is a violation of civil liberties. Senator Wiener said his new law saves lives.

“Unfortunately, for a small percentage of our homeless population, they’re so debilitated they can’t make those decisions for themselves,” Wiener said.

At this point, it is just a pilot program that will be tried in San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles counties.

Kammermann said the idea is too reactive. He said the focus should be on preventing people from getting to the point where they can no longer control their own functions.

“We could have been doing something much more substantive, much more helpful and something that would have helped the folks a lot sooner before they got to this situation where they are a danger to themselves or others,” he told FOX40.

Still, Wiener said a portion of our homeless population is in drastic need, which means a drastic solution is necessary.

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