Letters to the Editor

Mental health crisis

Concerning the Jan. 11 article on the homeless in our county, Jerry Rioux was quoted as stating, “The biggest problem is the lack of affordable housing.”

Federal government statistics show that 80 percent of the homeless suffer from either mental illness (the majority) or substance abuse. Under a current Senate bill being proposed, another statistic was published, which states: “In 1945, there were 600,000 beds nationally dedicated to mental illness. Today, we have twice the population and a total of only 40,000 beds.”

Here in California, institutions were closed almost over night during the Reagan governorship, and we are now suffering the consequence.

This is not a housing problem; it’s a mental health crisis. Clearly, the majority on the streets need to be institutionalized.