Several agencies in Fullerton aim to help the homeless, from overnight stays to short-term and long-term shelter. Some agencies offer supportive services such as job training, therapy, education, and case management. However, many of these programs do not treat the problem of why people are homeless, only treating the symptoms. The poor, poverty-stricken people who have lost their homes due to financial reasons are housed with drug addicts with mental problems who are a danger to themselves and others. These homeless people should not be placed in the same facility. With the lack of supervision, drug dealings may occur on the premises. Established rules are not enforced, and as a result, there is chaos and violence. Destruction and lack of maintenance of the facility also can occur. This lack of supervision and accountability is traumatizing for the residents of the facilities.
Shellenberger, who authored the book, San Fransicko, is a former hard-line progressive leftist who has lived in San Francisco Bay Area for thirty years. He formerly advocated decriminalizing drugs, affordable housing, and alternatives to jail and prisons. He was forced to take another look at the homeless problem when he witnessed encampments spreading and deaths skyrocketing.
In his book, San Fransicko, he states that the progressive policies were not working, and the problem only worsened. It happened in major cities on the West Coast, such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Portland. He stated that the underlying problem was NOT just the lack of housing or money for social programs, but it lies in the homeless, drug-addicted people with mental and physical health problems. According to Shellenberger, based on their length of time of being homeless, they suffer from “trimorbidity,” which is the combination of medical or chronic illness, mental illness, and substance abuse problems.
An estimated 171,000 people are homeless in California, and nearly 70,000 live in Los Angeles County. In assuming the role of victim, drug-addicted homeless individuals can get a financial stipend in cash per month and food stamps. They can get two meals daily at many churches and use their food stamps to negotiate money and the cash they need to buy drugs. Free tents are available through various homeless advocacy groups as temporary shelter from the environment.
Shellenberger states, “The chronic violation of laws and social norms erode the foundation of our cities and civilization itself.” We are the victims of the homeless situation, and we have not seen much improvement with all the money poured into these programs. However, as of September 15, 2023, Senate Bill 43 (SB 43) (https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=202320240SB43) was signed by Governor Newson to better help and protect Californians in most need of care by modernizing conservatorships. Californians with serious mental illness or substance abuse are at the most risk of harm to themselves and others. They can have a conservator/a third party, often a court-appointed family member, through a county mental health department petition.
Opponents such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) believe that involuntary holds do not work in advancing treatment and instead “lead to processing people into the most restrictive and most expensive corners of the system. Freedom is taken away by allowing intervention by the government. People who cannot provide for their personal safety or necessary medical care, in addition to food, clothing, or shelter, are not free. For drug addicts and the mentally ill to be homeless is unhealthy, unsafe, and inhumane. Are we letting mentally ill and drug-addicted people live and die on the street to be forgotten by society?
The World Health Organization has developed a new model that harmonizes mental health services and practices with international human rights law and has criticized practices promoting involuntary mental health treatments as leading to violence and abuse.