Newsom’s new California budget offers few details on costs for court-ordered homeless help

Gov. Gavin Newsom left few details in his revised budget plan for how he plans to fund a comprehensive proposal to use the courts to order the treatment of homeless individuals with serious mental illness and substance abuse, although he insisted there are billions of dollars available to begin with. implement his plan.

In early March, Newsom announced its Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment Court program, known as the CARE Court – an ambitious effort to connect 7,000 to 12,000 people with substance abuse and psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, with treatment and help with protection. . A CARE Court plan may include medication and mental health care to stabilize a participant for up to two years, along with a housing plan, a public defender, and a personal attorney.

During a press conference on Friday to unveil its $ 300.6 billion budget for 2022-2023, Newsom said he has in recent years channeled billions into the services and housing needed to make CARE Court successful. The Newsom administration has called on the Legislative Assembly to swiftly adopt the new draft budget, so that the governor can sign it by law by 1 July.

The budget proposal includes almost $ 65 million this year to kickstart CARE Court. Approximately $ 39 million would be spent to assist the California judiciary in conducting CARE court proceedings and providing other related resources, while $ 10 million would fund a state Department of Aging support program. A little more than $ 15 million would go to counties for education and technical assistance.

Newsom said the investment is based on existing and proposed dollars to support California’s behavioral care network and to build mental health housing. He noted $ 11.6 billion in annual behavioral health funding and $ 4.5 billion that he has promised since last year to add thousands of homes.

“This is unmatched support,” he said.

Mayors in some of California’s most populous cities have supported the CARE Court framework as an innovative tool that can help thousands of people languish in camps and on the streets. Proponents of the plan say it is the best chance to end a humanitarian crisis in the country’s richest state by providing much-needed services and protection to vulnerable people.

However, local authorities and behavioral care providers have raised concerns about the funding available to maintain CARE Court. They are concerned that there are an insufficient number of skilled workers, especially in the Central Valley and Inland Empire, and that Newsom’s proposals would need to provide significant funding to meet their obligations.

Counties would be subject to sanctions if they do not meet the program requirements. Newsom’s tax plan notes that his administration is works with counties, responsible for providing behavioral health care, to determine what other costs CARE Courts may include.

“The provinces look forward to further discussions on the costs and political implications of CARE courts. These are critical to its success,” said Graham Knaus, executive director of California State Assn. video statement. “Recent investments, while welcome, are simply taking a toll on the homelessness crisis.”

Michelle Doty Cabrera, CEO of County Behavioral Health Directors Assn. in California, said the budget must take into account how much extra work the CARE Court would create for vendors, including often overlooked responsibilities such as time spent in court and on the street for outreach activities.

“And we think it’s going to exceed hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Doty Cabrera.

A proposal to implement the CARE Court framework is working through the Legislative Assembly. Still, Senate Bill 1338 has passed two political committees with overwhelming support, despite questions from both Democrats and Republicans about the legal and moral benefits of the program.

Some of their concerns are reflected in opposition from civil and disability rights groups who have spent weeks lobbying the CARE Court in the Legislative Assembly. The American Civil Liberties Union California Action, Disability Rights California and the Western Center on Law and Poverty, among others, have argued that CARE Court would criminalize poverty and homelessness and that a coercive treatment model is not as effective as connecting people to voluntary service and housing.

“As a black woman currently living with mental disabilities, experiencing trauma such as homelessness, illegal imprisonment and misdiagnosis of mental disabilities for almost 10 years, I oppose Governor Newsom’s proposal from CARE Court,” said Shonique Williams, state organizer of the Dignity group. and Power Now, it says in a statement. “Its framework is not a true model of care for communities in California, but a plan to create and fund a new addition to the cancer system.

“As with the current criminal justice system, marginalized societies will not have the right tools and resources to defend themselves against CARE Court when forced into involuntary treatment, and they will ultimately be harmed by being from an underrepresented society in America. ” statement added.

Newsom’s budget director, Keely Martin Bosler, said on Friday that the administration does not yet have a clear idea of ​​the costs that would be borne by the counties but will continue to work with local officials to better understand what the program would need to succeed. Legislators and Newsom will spend the next month negotiating details of a final budget, which must pass the Legislative Assembly by June 15.

Leave a Comment