All through Santa Clara County, we now have all seen the rising variety of folks dwelling on our streets and waterways. The variety of folks battling homelessness continues to rise, regardless that we now have handed new taxes like 2016’s Measure A which promised to construct 5,000 items over 10 years.
One other tax, 2020’s Measure E, promised tens of millions yearly to deal with homelessness. The state and federal governments have additionally despatched tens of millions yearly to native governments in an effort to alleviate this disaster.
Sadly, the shortage of inexpensive housing, regardless that not sufficient has been created regardless of all these extra funds, just isn’t the principle purpose most individuals find yourself on our streets.
Based on the 2019 Santa Clara County Homeless Census & Survey, 42% of these surveyed had self-reported psychological well being points and 35% had drug dependancy issues. Out of the 9,700 folks surveyed, 27% admitted that they had been “justice system concerned,” 19% weren’t from our county and one other 14% had lived in our county lower than one yr. To deal with homelessness, we now have to look at elements like drug dependancy, psychological sickness, household reunification and the huge launch of individuals from our prisons and jails.
Many have blamed metropolis leaders for failing to successfully take care of homelessness, however what most individuals have no idea helps folks with psychological well being points, the drug-addicted and the beforehand incarcerated is the duty of the county, not the native metropolis authorities.
Whereas serving on the San Jose Metropolis Council, our metropolis labored onerous and located modern methods to deal with homelessness. We transformed lodges into houses, constructed tiny houses on vacant properties and labored with church buildings to permit for protected in a single day parking and housing.
San Jose spent tens of millions on prevention by serving to pay lease for many who misplaced their jobs or had funding challenges. Earlier than I left workplace, the town had constructed a number of new buildings and had funded 1,000 extra new items. Nevertheless, these efforts didn’t deal with the foundation causes for homelessness—psychological sickness, drug dependancy and reintegration of the previously incarcerated.
Based on Santa Clara County’s audit of psychological well being providers, extra must be achieved to coordinate providers. The report supplies a suggestion to rent administration to create accountability of the quite a few nonprofits and distributors receiving funds to supply psychological well being providers. In a current price range replace, I discovered quite a few nonprofits receiving funds to supply providers to these battling homelessness. Nevertheless, if we don’t specify acknowledged targets, measurable outcomes and interdepartmental coordination, we are going to proceed to simply throw cash on the downside.
What Santa Clara County should do to have a extra profitable affect on homelessness is:
- Create a homelessness discount supervisor place to coordinate efforts from hospitals, drug rehabilitation providers and justice-involved reintegration providers.
- Make household reunification a precedence
- Implement coordination of emergency medical and emergency psychiatric remedy plans referred to as EmPATH
- Increase Laura’s Regulation, 180 days of short-term conservatorship, to the severely drug-addicted homeless inhabitants and implement Gov. Gavin Newsom’s CARE Court docket, a brand new coverage framework to help folks dwelling with untreated psychological well being and substance abuse challenges.
- Construct rehabilitation and psychological well being amenities at each county-owned hospital and take a look at county-owned land to construct housing with wrap-around providers, as has been promised for a few years.
- Not enable early launch of the incarcerated until they endure a drug remedy evaluation, obtain job coaching and obtain job and housing placement providers so they don’t find yourself homeless. Additionally, final result measures to evaluate the effectiveness of the providers offered should be created.
Homelessness isn’t just a results of low housing stock or lack of affordability. If we don’t insist on accountability, change legal guidelines to assist the service-resistant and construct extra supportive housing, we are going to by no means make a big affect assuaging homelessness.
Johnny Khamis is a former San Jose councilmember representing District 10. He now works as a public relations guide for the Santa Clara County Affiliation of Realtors and is working for District 1 county supervisor.