“‘We have failed’: how California’s homelessness catastrophe is worsening”
The homelessness crisis is one of the most visible failures of leadership from Sacramento and our public safety leaders. Tens of thousands of Californians have been left to suffer from mental illness and substance abuse, while deteriorating the quality of life in our communities. We need a new approach that continues to provide services and treatment, but also engages law enforcement to stop enabling drug addiction and mental health crises.
THE LARGEST HOMELESS SHELTER IN MOST COUNTIES IS THE LOCAL JAIL
“California last tallied its homeless population in January 2020, and found at least 161,000 people without a roof over their heads on any given night”
OVER 70% OF HOMELESS SUFFER FROM SERIOUS MENTAL ILLNESS OR SUBSTANCE ABUSE
As District Attorney, Nathan would champion efforts to allow court-mandated treatment for drug and alcohol addiction and severe mental health issues. California law makes it incredibly difficult to provide care and treatment to those who refuse. The Attorney General needs to step in and lead on this issue, to protect the public’s safety, and to get help to those in dire need.
A MODEL TO FOLLOW: Los Angeles Homeless Outreach Services Team
Los Angeles County’s Homeless Outreach Service Team (HOST) is a partnership between the LA County Sheriff’s Department, the LA Homeless Services Authority, the LA County Department of Mental Health, and local nonprofits. Together, this team has developed a five point plan that has effectively helped thousands off the streets:
1) Identify and treat the homeless individually
2) Assess their needs
3) Provide outreach programs to address their urgent needs
4) Notice the individuals that they are required to move and are no longer allowed to stay on the streets
5) Welcome the homeless into temporary supportive housing and clear public right of way of any encampments.
The LA HOST team is a prime example of what needs to happen across the state: compassionately offer services and support for those struggling with homelessness. Then demand accountability and clear homeless encampments that enable drug addiction and mental health crises.