State Watch

Newsom unveils plan for California mental health courts to help homeless

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced a new plan Thursday to help homeless people with mental health and substance abuse disorders.

The Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment (CARE) Court would require all California counties to provide free comprehensive treatment to homeless citizens suffering from a list of ailments.

“CARE Court is about meeting people where they are and acting with compassion to support the thousands of Californians living on our streets with severe mental health and substance use disorders,” Newsom said at a mental health treatment center in San Jose. “We are taking action to break the pattern that leaves people without hope and cycling repeatedly through homelessness and incarceration.”

The program will allow community members, including family members, first responders and mental health service providers, to refer homeless people struggling with disorders to community-based services in an effort to treat people before they are “hospitalized or arrested.”

The plan includes local court-ordered individualized interventions and services, stabilization medication, advanced mental health directives and housing assistance, with service plans that last up to one or two years.

People referred to CARE Court will also be given a public defender and a supporter “to help individuals make self-directed care decisions.”

“It’s time we face the painful, but obvious truth: our behavioral health system in California is broken. All of us see it every day on our streets — and it’s long past time we fix it,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria in response to Newsom’s plan. “Governor Newsom’s CARE Court…will provide individuals who are struggling with behavioral health issues a pathway to the housing and health services they need and give those who encounter these individuals a real way to get them the help they need.”

Newsom’s proposal is awaiting approval by the California Legislature.

Tags Gavin Newsom Homelessness Mental health

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