Two members of the San Diego City Council want to allocate $500,000 in the city’s 2023 budget to fund a new conservation and treatment unit (CTU) through the city attorney’s office. The unit would target the city’s “most vexing cases of homelessness,” including those who chronically tax the 911 system and emergency responders.
“We have a moral and medical obligation to help the sickest and most vulnerable San Diegans living on the streets and we must do so urgently,” said board member Jen Campbell.
Campbell appeared at a morning press conference alongside council member Marni von Wilpert, who said the proposed unit was part of an effort to keep San Diego’s most vulnerable residents out of work. bike to local emergency rooms.
“It’s our 911 response system that responds to these people, our firefighters and paramedics who continually pick up homeless people and take them to the emergency room. That’s why we thought as a city we need to step up and help and fund our own city attorney’s office to do this work to really ease the burden on our emergency systems,” von said. Wilpert.
Council members shared the story of a man they identified as “AF” who called emergency responders 500 times over a 12-month period.
This man is one of 11 people who have gone through the Lifesaving Treatment Intervention (LIFT) program already established by the city attorney. There are 20 other cases pending in the program.
CTU would include three new positions to strengthen the LIFT program. They would assess the needs of potential participants, according to von Wilpert.
“To see what route of treatment they need. It doesn’t have to be guardianship. The law requires that the City of San Diego and our city attorneys seek the least restrictive court-ordered method of treatment possible. You start with the least restrictive and go up if a judge orders it and needs to,” von Wilpert explained.
Homeless lawyer Michael McConnell said he welcomes anything that gets people off the streets in a “humane, effective and efficient” way, but said municipal guardianship already exists and that it wasn’t working.
“These things don’t work, whatever it is, they don’t work unless you actually have good quality housing and ongoing services so people can stay stable in that housing. Where are the ongoing quality services and housing where people will be able to live and stay? Otherwise, we’re just doing more of the same,” McConnell said.
Council members say the new unit will help find housing and treatment programs for homeless people who are unable to support themselves and have no family or friends to care for them.
The city’s budget review process on Mayor Todd Gloria’s proposed budget for the new fiscal year begins Wednesday.
“We need to make it easier for people with repeated mental health crises in our community to get the help they need, whether they are in shelter or not. That’s why I’m working closely with Governor Newsom on his CARE Court initiative, with Sacramento legislative leaders to reform our guardianship laws, and with President Nathan Fletcher and the county to expand services, shelters and housing. people with high mental health needs. I look forward to hearing more about the board members’ proposal as we go through the budget review process this week with the board and hearing from board members on their budget priorities,” Gloria said in a statement to NBC 7.