California politicians propose Proposition 1, which would divert mental health funds to housing and behavioral health. Housing and other behavioral health services will get $140 million from the state’s mental health funds if passed.
Diverting Mental Health Funds to Housing Sparks Controversy and Concern
These programs would also issue a 30-year bond to raise $6.4 billion. However, community mental health providers would lose funding for residential drug addiction treatment and short-term involuntary psychiatric detention.
Bipartisan proposals in California’s legislature were amended to eliminate language requiring mental health institutions to be voluntary and unlocked. Newsom supports the bill, highlighting the need to get homeless people off the streets and into treatment. Due to California’s affordable housing scarcity, homelessness has increased.
Proposition 1 opponents, including disability groups, worry about forcible hospitalization of people with psychiatric and substance misuse illnesses. They worry that diverting mental health dollars to housing could prolong coercive treatment methods like CARE courts, which force patients to follow treatment regimens under threat of legal action or conservatorship.
Balancing Solutions for Homelessness and Mental Health
To address vulnerable population homelessness, some argue against linking housing to forced treatment programs. This method could violate the right to housing and lead to coercion. Longer-term, intense treatment programs are not always bad if they are voluntary and not coercive, according to disability experts.
Diverting mental health funds expenditures to housing and behavioral health services raises issues for people with psychiatric disability and drug abuse disorders. Critics say prioritizing housing over treating homelessness’ core causes and assuring voluntary treatment could prolong harmful practices and violate rights.