California’s homelessness and mental health crisis is out of control and people want our state lawmakers to take immediate action.
Cities are at the forefront of this problem with tents and campgrounds lining our sidewalks, parks, and public spaces. Aggressive action must be taken now.
Small home camps and temporary shelters were not enough to offer homeless people a path to stable housing. This epidemic is more than just a lack of affordable housing and it is time for us to publicly acknowledge it and start addressing all challenges systematically.
It is inhumane to leave people struggling with mental health problems or substance abuse without the treatment and care they desperately need. Under the proposal of the governor’s Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Court, our state can offer support to thousands of Californians with untreated schizophrenia, psychotic disorders, and substance abuse problems who often experience homelessness, incarceration, institutionalization or premature death. Through a community-driven approach, CARE Court protects the rights of individuals while helping them access housing, treatment and care.
As the world’s fifth largest economy, California can no longer allow people with mental health problems to become homeless without treatment or housing. I now call this epidemic “mental health homelessness.” Mental health has plagued the homeless population and their families, especially in black and brown communities. It is time to transform a broken system and Fontana is ready to take the lead and once again set the example for other cities to follow.
With the help of the U.S. Rescue Plan and Congressional funding, the city of Fontana is working to establish the region’s first Homelessness Prevention, Resource, and Care Center that will address homelessness on an individual level. In addition, the City Council of Fontana has formed a special team of lifeguards to address this issue directly. The Community Outreach and Support Team (COAST) is a multidisciplinary team of professionals trained to address and respond to those experiencing a mental health episode in hopes of avoiding a crisis event that may have historically led to incarceration. This team is made up of a Fontana police officer, a San Bernardino County Behavioral Health Department social worker and a San Bernardino County Fire Department firefighter with his “Scout” support dog.
COAST responds to service calls with a mission that includes establishing relationships with the public and removing the burden of other city resources that may not have been equipped to deal with a mental health crisis. The COAST team also provides significant support and aftercare services, including filling out prescriptions, working with the District Attorney’s Office to dismiss orders for minor offenses involving barriers to housing and employment, access to trained counselors, and long-term treatment. drug and alcohol term. With CARE Court, we now have more tools to connect a homeless person struggling with an untreated mental illness to get the attention they deserve.
Right now, our response to the homeless is inconsistent. This is unacceptable. We can and should do better. If we are going to solve this problem, everyone should do their part. As Mayor of Fontana, I am proud to represent a city with the mission statement “We serve to enrich the lives of all people by taking advantage of opportunities.” That is why I urge our state legislators to take immediate action and vote in favor of SB 1338 CARE Court Act.
Visit https://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov to contact your lawmakers today and ask them to vote in support of SB 1338 CARE Court Act.
For more information on CARE Court, visit https://www.chhs.ca.gov/care-court/.
Acquanetta Warren is the mayor of Fontana.
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