Addressing Mental Illness & Addiction Ends Homelessness – 

The reality is that the present system to address the homelessness issue as well as the politicians who developed and oversee it is not working, and needs to be revamped. Over the last several years, citizens in various municipalities throughout California voted to raise taxes in order to give career politicians and special interest groups the resources to tackle the issue. Yet, the homelessness crisis has since exploded and continues to worsen.

In 2016, a $1.2 billion bond known as Proposition HHH passed in the City of Los Angeles to help build approximately 10,000 new supportive housing units to house the homeless.  Since passing 7 years ago, only 37 projects totaling 2,299 units have been built with an average cost per unit of an outrageously wasteful $500,000 – $700,000.00.  This problem will only get worse if we continue to put our faith in the career politicians, special interest groups and a system that has already failed us.

As Congressman, I will raise awareness and advocate for solutions that assist state and local leaders with adequately addressing the homeless crisis in the following ways:

Coordination of Joint Agencies

  • participation in a regional task force of neighboring municipalities in order to develop joint plans to collectively fight this crisis and provide each member valuable information on proven techniques, insights, and strategies;
  • participation in a joint assistance authority in order to transfer resources and data across city and county lines without delay or red tape; and
  • facilitating the expansion of data and intelligence sharing on drug trafficking trends, illicit substance manufacturing and other criminal elements that plaque the homeless community.

Development of Emergency Beds and Associated Services

  • facilitating the conversion of federal, state, county and city owned property into temporary shelters;
  • utilizing Federal borrowing power to purchase land for shelter needs; and
  • providing mental health, job training, permanent housing, and relocation efforts to ensure no one is permanently housed in a shelter.

Strengthening Mental Health and Substance Addiction Services

  • increasing the number of mental health and substance addiction caseworkers;
  • creating “street teams” that inform and educate the homeless about available services and encourage those suffering from mental illness and substance addiction to seek care;
  • ensuring that those in care are treated fairly and evaluated in a timely manner so they can rejoin society with job training, continued free mental health and substance addiction services;
  • hiring mental health first responders that assist Police and Fire units on calls to ensure those with mental health issues are treated humanely and without unnecessary use of force; and
  • deploying large-scale and properly trained police efforts to rid the streets of fentanyl and other highly addictive and dangerous drugs.

Removal of Encampments and Enforcement of Laws

  • increasing the number of sanitation workers to assist with the removal of homeless encampments and clean the streets, freeways and parks;
  • creating job training apprenticeship programs with local labor and trade unions to train and employ those who want a job and to move into supportive housing; and
  • preventing new encampments from arising by enforcing laws, as long as, there are adequate temporary shelter beds available.

Development of Long-Term Supportive Housing

  • building inexpensive tiny/cabin home communities;
  • facilitating the conversion of federal, state, county and city owned property into affordable housing;
  • partnering with the private sector to lower construction costs and create incentives to get projects done faster and under budget; and
  • utilizing Federal borrowing power to purchase land for permanent housing and leasing it to developers to cover the debt financing thus, incentivizing fast construction.

Prevent Homelessness

  • creating emergency loans and rental assistance to prevent homelessness;
  • establishing mobile resources that quickly and effectively find those in need of services but lack transportation option; and
  • establishing permanent supportive housing coupled with specific services such as PTSD counseling and mental health and addiction services.

I will advocate for a true FEMA-level response that comes with Federal, State and local coordination as well as the necessary funding to quickly house those that are homeless. No more wasting time while the career politicians and special interest groups fight over each other’s failed policies that have only produced a handful of supportive housing units.

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