Bailey Housing/Homelessness Q3
It’s easy when addressing a crisis that is as complex as homelessness to gravitate towards safe and simplistic solutions, when in reality our response must be connected solutions that acknowledge the complexity of the issue. You might hear some say, “this is about mental health”. The truth is homelessness is the result of a lack of affordable housing and mental health treatment, more permissible drug use, less teeth in our criminal justice system, the deterioration of families, poor voter decisions on ballot initiatives, AND the list goes on.
What is missing from the conversation is complexity and leadership. It’s easy for people to identify the problem, but what we really need is leaders willing to move away from rhetoric and drive positive change. I applaud the work of Governor Newsom, our legislative leaders, and my colleagues – The Big City Mayors – who recognize the impact that homelessness has on the quality of life in California and who recently rolled up their sleeves to make sizable financial investments and programmatic changes to provide relief to local communities.
Also noticeably missing are changes to the way that our state and county approach mental health solutions, from the ability to force people in crisis into meaningful treatment when they are a danger to themselves and others, to how funding is distributed. Increasingly, the burden of servicing those in crisis is falling to municipalities, as the largest impact of non-treatment is local quality of life, but the funding for mental health, incarceration, and housing is allocated to other levels of government. This really ties cities’ hands, as residents call their mayors and councilmembers to seek relief from the impacts of homelessness.