by Michael Medeiros
150,000 is the number of people experiencing homelessness on any given day in the state of California. California has the largest population of homeless by far in the United States of America. Isn’t it time we ask and demand an answer as to why that is. 25% of the homeless in California have severe mental illness meaning they receive disability and are unable to care for themselves. 45% of the states homeless population is diagnosed with a mental illness. 35% of California’s homeless has severe substance use disorder. And 11% are veteran’s. I am only using a few examples of the special needs, demographics of the homeless population and the diverse range of human beings that can find themselves experiencing homelessness. I would ask that we all consider what it would look like if 80% of the states homeless population was no longer homeless and suffering on the streets. Would we still have a crisis would society still￼￼￼￼￼￼ be so negatively impacted? I say 80% because that is the percentage of those homeless that already fall under treatment programs.
Let’s please consider that we have a behavioral health system and uncounted nonprofits that are supposed to be dealing with the severely mentally ill. ￼ countless programs exist to help this population. As anyone that has ever worked in, experienced or had a family member with mental illness and dealing with behavioral health programs you know the system is completely broke. Will giving it more money fix it or do the programs need to be re-designed held accountable and do better? Why do we have any homeless veterans in this country? That is just shameful, yet many programs exist to assist this population. Are we asking why they are not being successful are we asking why they are not accountable?
Substance use disorder accounts for 35% of the homeless in California. I personally would argue from my experience that the number is higher than that. I would encourage everybody to go to the state of California’s website go to Butte County and look up the amount of substance use disorder programs and treatment beds we have in this county. Pay special attention to the numeric code next to the program in bed and it will tell you the population it serves. You may be shocked and alarmed to see we basically have none that specialize, serve or allow/accept the homeless population.
The reason I am trying desperately to raise awareness is that we keep funding broken programs we keep acting like the problems are monetary and not bad programs. We do not demand accountability or truthful reporting of data from our service providers. So the city has determined the solution is to give more money to service providers that have already failed. We can clearly see what is most lacking and would address the biggest need is substance use disorder treatment but the city has made no effort to address that. The city has made no effort to hold service providers accountable or demand answers, why is that?
Please don’t think I am not in full support of helping those experiencing homelessness and I absolutely believe we as a society have an obligation to help for example every year 5000 kids age out of foster care and immediately become homeless. We absolutely have an obligation to help. But do we have an obligation to continually help to help and never see anybody actually improving do we have an obligation to enable people to continue to suffer do we have an obligation to support programs that don’t achieve outcomes other than growing their own agency? Please think for yourself research the numbers that are given make sure the studies that are cited are credible actual studies. Most of all please look around and ask yourself if what is being done is working does the narrative match what you are seeing and feeling for yourself. If you decide what has been done has not been successful then ask yourself why are we continuing to support these programs if not for an agenda an agenda that supports and promotes the continuation and growth of homelessness.
Editors note: I think it the homeless population is probably closer to 200k or more. However, I agree with most of what the author has said, except for one part. Homelessness, drugs and mental illness are almost always linked together and it’s a national problem that requires a national solution. CA can’t go it alone and anything Chico proposes will fall woefully short of the goal.
The homeless population in CA came from many states over the past decade or more thanks to CA welfare policies and our state’s climate. This migration has overloaded CA’s ability to deal with the homeless effectively. This problem began decades earlier when the Supreme Court said we must release mentally ill patients from institutions because it was cruel to keep them locked up. They ordered us to put them back in the community for local treatment and both the Dems and Reps agreed that was probably the best. That plan was shortsighted and turned quickly into an expensive disaster . Since that decision was made countless mentally ill have been abused and died on the street in the most miserable ways imaginable.