Unhoused Deserve Permanent Housing, with Voluntary, Dignified Care

Unhoused Deserve Permanent Housing, with Voluntary, Dignified Care

All Californians deserve permanent, affordable housing, and healthcare that meet their needs and allow our communities to flourish. Nobody should be forced to languish, deteriorate, and die on our streets.

Unfortunately, instead of focusing on proven methods that prioritize permanent housing and voluntary healthcare, Governor Gavin Newsom’s so-called “CARE Court” plan would create a new court system that subjects unhoused people with mental health disabilities to involuntary treatment. This is not the answer. California desperately needs more housing and healthcare — not more courts.

Research shows that high-quality, voluntary care is more effective than coerced mental health treatment, and treatment is more effective when unhoused community members are stabilized in safe, permanent affordable housing. A recent University of California San Francisco randomized controlled study, for example, found that permanent supportive housing combined with voluntary intensive case management reduced psychiatric emergency room visits and increased the rate of voluntary outpatient mental health visits compared to the control group.

The research confirms what unhoused people in our state already know — permanent housing, combined with voluntary mental health services, are tools to begin the healing process for unhoused people.

Sean Geary, a resident of Pacifica, is one of the 161,548 unhoused Californians. When Sean lost his housing, he decided to live in his RV. Since that time, he’s faced daily trauma and indignity — whether from law enforcement discrimination, local elected officials passing anti-unhoused legislation, harassment from housed Pacifica residents, and anxiety over how to meet his basic survival needs. With all this comes stress, which Sean believes has exacerbated his bipolar disorder and has made it harder to get his life back.

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