SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest proposal is being called a major step in the helping the homelessness problem and those with mental health issues.
“We need to treat brain health early before we punish it later,” Newsom said.
The proposed CARE Court would offer more services to the unhoused with severe mental health and addiction disorders — even if that means forcing some of them into treatment.
“CARE Court’s proposal is bold. … We need to be bold here,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “We don’t say it’s optional to provide a free public education to our kids or it’s optional to build public schools, we require it.”
“When it comes to providing mental health care for people who are sick, why should it be an option?” the mayor continued.
Bob Erlenbusch with the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness understands it’s a challenging problem, but he said compassion should always lead.
“I think it’s a failed public policy, quite frankly,” Erlenbusch said. “I was disheartend that the governor said the time to protect the civil rights has passed. To me, it’s never passed to protect people’s civil rights, no matter what the issue is.”
Erlenbusch instead hopes political and government leaders bring back Treatment of Demand to help unhoused people who want assistance right away instead of placing them on a waitlist, which could be a wait of a few months.
“You can do both, provide treatment on demand when they’re ready, protect their civil rights and have outreach teams and build up the trust,” Erlenbusch said.
“Every one of these places, even food stamps, I just went to they told me they were going to ask for requirements, and they are going to ask you for your birth certificate. And it’s just over,” said Peter.
Peter has been homeless for eight months and said he also struggles with mental illness. He said it has been difficult to get any resources because he has no official ID card.
“I’ve been denied all day. The problem with services is it’s a failure. They are not helping homeless,” Peter said. “It’s almost like they don’t see the homeless. Like, ‘The guy has nothing, why am I going to ask him for things he doesn’t have?’ It’s a failure.”
In regards to the governor’s proposal, Peter said he thinks it’s a “brilliant idea.”
“I’d force myself into it. There’s just not enough resources,” Peter said. “They are asking for things we don’t have, and it’s very, very frustrating.”