Letter to the Editor

Two types of homeless

AtascaderoJanuary 28, 2013 

I am a former development director for Community Action Partnership and have been a direct service worker for homeless programs in the Philadelphia region and Los Angeles. Dee Torres and her staff are first-class, dedicated, compassionate professionals who do outstanding work with the county’s homeless population.

Any discussion of homelessness must separate two key homeless populations. First, for example, are those who have lost a job or spouse, aged out of foster care or have recently been released from prison.

Separate that discussion from our issue with the chronically homeless who have severe mental illness and/or addiction issues. Because these individuals tend to engage in anti-social activity, the discussion and proposed solutions are often contentious.

A partial solution is available. Along with a new homeless center, we must enact Laura’s Law in this county. Nevada County has done so with great success. The law allows for mandatory treatment for individuals who are seriously mentally ill and have otherwise refused treatment.

Nevada County has estimated that during the first 21 2/ years on implementation of Laura’s Law, it realized a savings of more that $500,000 by avoiding hospitalizations and incarcerations.

I suggest, as a first step, that the county supervisors seriously investigate this option.

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