Let's End Homelessness in California
We are the state that created the personal computer revolution, the Internet revolution and the iPhone. Do not tell me we have to accept 130,000 people living on the streets in California. Tokyo is a much bigger city than Los Angeles and they do not have a homeless problem.
Approximately 25% of the homeless are people with mental health issues (apart from drug and alcohol addiction). Other proposals like Housing First are addressing the 75% who are not chronically mentally ill. I am focused on what we do with the chronically mentally ill because I do not believe long term resolution can occur without a solution to this demographic.
Many of these people need long-term inpatient care. Another group may potentially become self-sufficient but not without some period of inpatient mental health care. The bottom line is that California does not currently have a state mental health infrastructure or the laws needed to get people the help they need. For the more than 50,000 homeless in the Los Angeles area there are less than 1,000 beds of in patient mental health care and most of those are unavailable to the homeless and filled with criminally insane.
We need 5,000 beds to make a dent in the problem in just Los Angeles. We need the ability for the chronically homeless to be evaluated by mental health professionals and involuntarily placed in the care that they need.
Once the chronically mentally ill can be treated properly, the next step is 5000 beds of drug and alcohol treatment rehabs and the enforcement of vagrancy laws. Similar to how we reduced drunk driving, repeat offenders of our vagrancy laws will get court ordered to alcohol and drug treatment.
Yes this will cost in the tens to hundreds of millions - but we are spending that now in the burden to our public services - and not helping people or making a dent in the problem.
In the long term, this plan will cost less than the status quo which has already spiraled out of control.
We will spend $98 million to give healthcare to illegal aliens in 2020, while our streets are covered with feces and disease and our existing mentally ill citizens and veterans are literally dying on the streets.
We have spent $5.4 billion on a bullet train and are planning on spending another $12.4 billion to be able to go from Bakersfield to Merced. I say we put that on hold until we have taken care of California's chronically mentally ill.
How much will it cost?
According to this report the cost of inpatient care for the mentally ill averages $240K per patient (page 11).
I propose we get started with 500 beds run by the state and 500 beds run by a health management organization under contract to the state. This initial phase would cost approximately $240m annually.
We need new legislation that enables judges to involuntarily commit mentally ill patients who are endangering themselves or others, when beds are available.
After a 12 to 24 month study period, if the program is yielding results, I propose expanding it to the full 5000 bed scale required to start getting people off the streets.
How to offset the costs
A study in Santa Clara county found that each homeless person is costing the state and county $83K per year in HEALTH CARE COSTS: 53 percent, JUSTICE SYSTEM COSTS: 34 percent and SOCIAL SERVICES: 13 percent.
The plan above would eliminate these expenditures, making the net cost per person approximately $160K.
We are spending $330 million on expanding rail service for the 2028 Olympics. What would make LA look better, rail service or the fact that we are not letting our mentally ill die in their own feces on the street?
Here is a list of ways to cut more than $40 billion a year from the California budget.