Community Voices: California communities must show they can CARE | Opinion

Cities across California are at the forefront of responding to the ongoing crisis of homelessness.

Since 2018, when Bakersfield City Council declared a homeless emergency shelter crisis, Bakersfield has invested in 600 new shelter beds. Even in a global pandemic, we built the highly successful Brundage Lane Navigation Center, which has taken almost 140 people from the shelter to permanent housing through comprehensive case management. The 2022 point time count of homeless people indicated that for the first time in years, there were more people in shelters than on the streets last winter.

The council continues to address camp-related issues by investing in downtown Kern biohazard cleanup teams, Clean Urban Public Works Teams, the Bakersfield Homeless Center Job Program, Bakersfield Police Department Response Teams and Code Enforcement. Rapid Response Team. In 2021, the Rapid Response team alone received 6,217 complaints, cleared 4,690 camps and collected more than 5.93 million pounds of garbage.

Bakersfield has also developed one of the first reliable homes in the Central Valley to encourage additional investment in housing production to provide sustainable housing solutions for homeless people. Since 2019, we have invested more than $ 14 million. We have allocated another $ 10 million in ARPA funds for affordable housing, and we have received $ 1 million in additional state and federal grants. As a result, more than 136 new affordable homes were completed last year, 217 homes are under construction and development, and 154 homes are ready for refurbishment.

However, despite all efforts to eliminate the problem, there are too many people with serious mental health and addiction problems on our streets and living in camps. These are our aunts, uncles, sons, daughters, cousins, who suffer from the spectrum of untreated schizophrenia or psychotic disorders, who have been left to wither in our streets.

Looking around, in Bakersfield and across California, it’s clear that the situation isn’t working. While we must continue to provide assistance to those seeking emergency shelter, it is clear that more needs to be done. But there are limits to what municipal governments can do. The state must take a step back.

That is why I urge my City Council colleagues to join me in approving the ruling in favor of Governor Gavin Newsom’s CARE Court Model. The Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment (CARE) Court is a new proposal to provide the care and support that people with mental health and substance abuse need. The new model of the CARE Court will hold accountable the legal orders to care for all persons — individuals and local governments — and the consequences of non-compliance by both parties.

The CARE Court will associate a person struggling with untreated mental illness with a CARE plan mandated by the court for a maximum of two years. Each plan may include clinically prescribed individualized interventions with a variety of support services, a medication and a housing plan, and will be managed by a community care team.

The focus of the CARE Court is to stabilize people with the most difficult behavioral health conditions without depriving them of their rights. Each person will be given a public defender and a new assistant, in addition to their entire clinical team, to support decision-making, not alternative decisions, as is the case with conservatives.

CARE Court is for a subset of individuals who are incapable of making medical decisions – before being arrested and committed to a state hospital, and ending up in a Mental Health Conservatory.

Let’s be clear: There are many reasons why people are homeless. A single solution will not solve this social problem. But the CARE Court is an essential next step in helping some of the most vulnerable people get off the streets and into their homes, with the help they desperately need.

Newsom does not require this new approach, but rather supports this effort by introducing $ 65 million for the initial costs of setting up the CARE Court.

This plan is moving through the Legislature.

Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh, along with the mayors of the Big Cities of California, has approved this proposal. The National Alliance on Mental Illness, the California Professional Fire Department, the California Medical Association and the California Hospitals Association have also joined the coalition in support of the CARE Courts.

California needs to act urgently to address the mental health crisis on our streets. If you agree, call your state representatives and encourage them to accept the CARE Court Framework.

Andrae Gonzales represents Ward 2 as a member of Bakersfield City Council.

Community Voices: California communities must show they can CARE | Opinion Source link Community Voices: California communities must show they can CARE | Opinion

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