Last updated: January 15, 2023, BVN
Aldon Thomas Styles | California Black Media
Aaliyah Muhammad is a member of civil rights organizations all of us or zero A pillar of her community in Sacramento. She works tirelessly to help homeless people along the streets of Market, a thoroughfare in the Sacramento County community of Walnut Grove.
She is also the mother of a son who suffers from severe mental illness.
Muhammad fears he may be the only one standing between his son and life on the streets.
“One day he said he didn’t want to have their services anymore, so they stopped coming. That’s when he started going downhill,” said Muhammad, who was handling his case. “But I don’t think they should have just quit. They should have talked to him or found other groups he might work with.”
For many Californians, this is no stranger story. For many families with homeless relatives, or those on the verge of losing their home, it was the right time to prevent them from losing secure housing while battling mental illness or other life challenges. It was an intervention or strategic assistance.
About 161,548 people in the state experience homelessness on any given day, according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR) reports that the number of homeless people in the state has increased 42% from 2014 to 2020.
The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority reports that approximately 25% of the adult homeless population in Los Angeles County has severe mental health problems.
According to a survey conducted by the California Health Care Foundation, 43% of Black Californians interviewed reported that someone close to them had experienced homelessness. This is a much higher percentage than any other racial group surveyed.
Experts attribute California’s homeless crisis to several key historical factors.
Latina Jackson, a licensed clinical social worker and lieutenant with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, explained that battling severe mental illness can lead to homelessness and vice versa.
“People with severe mental illness may experience delusions and hallucinations that may lead to bizarre, irrational, impulsive, or disorganized behavior. There was even action,” Jackson said.
Alex Bisotiski, a senior California policy fellow at the National Alliance to End Homelessness, argues that the crisis has been happening for decades.
“Over the past 50 years, we’ve seen the federal government significantly reduce its investment in affordable housing,” he said.
The Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Act of 1967, signed into law by Gov. Ronald Reagan, provides guidelines for dealing with an individual’s involuntary civil involvement in mental health facilities in California. The intention was to move away from locked psychiatric hospitals and advocate for more community-based treatment.
LPS also implemented a 72-hour hold to limit involuntary and indefinite institutionalization.
Jackson, who, like Muhammad, is familiar with the subject of mental illness in her own personal life, says that while the law was born with the best of intentions, the LPS law has not worked well in practice. I claim.
“I’ve never seen anyone who has a really psychotic break come back completely in 72 hours,” she said. However, I have yet to see a person who has fully recovered.”
Visotizky argues that the LPS Act has led to underinvestment due to lack of alternatives. The LPS Act freed many people from state hospitals to live in communities.
1980s, under Pres. Reagan reduced investment from the health care system that most American families depended on to provide care and shelter for their mentally ill relatives and those with other behavioral problems. According to Starting Over Inc. executive director Vonya Quarles, it came in the form of the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980 (MHSA).
“It closed mental health facilities and led to an increase in the prison system,” Quarles said.
In recent years, California announced a $3 billion investment to provide affordable housing options and services for people suffering from severe mental illness and substance abuse problems.
This includes the Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment (CARE) Act (or Senate Bill (SB) 1338) designed to provide several points of intervention and alternatives before facing more serious consequences. included funds for
The CARE Act includes the Care Court, which aims to keep homeless people with severe mental illness out of correctional facilities and in favor of compulsory treatment.
untreated mental problems
“CARE courts have the potential to change the lives of thousands of families across the state,” said Harold Turner, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Urban Los Angeles. “Organizations like NAMI urgently need this help so they can immediately help their loved ones who are suffering from untreated mental and behavioral problems.”
Despite Care Court’s fair share of criticism, Muhammad believes the program is exactly what his son needs.
Muhammad continues to serve those in need while his son receives treatment through Napa State Hospital’s care program.
“We all go get dinner and take them to another camp and give them away,” she said. I will never come back.”
California Black Media coverage of mental health in California is supported by the California Health Care Foundation.