The Long Beach City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to support a yet-to-be adopted state law that could force chronically homeless and those with mental illness into services through the use of court-ordered treatment plans.
The CARE Court program was proposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier this month with the general framework allowing family members, clinicians, public safety officials and others to lobby for a judge to order a person into a treatment plan if it’s found they’re unable to make medical decisions on their own.
State legislators would still have to adopt the program and it’s unclear what the final version of the program could be like before it heads to Newsom’s desk for approval. However, Councilman Daryl Supernaw, who put the issue on the council’s agenda Tuesday night, said he supported the program in principle and asked other members to join him.
“I firmly believe in this because it represents a paradigm shift in the way we’re dealing with this crisis and that’s exactly what our constituents have been looking for,” Supernaw said.
Supernaw’s request also called for the city to look at administering the program locally, rather than through Los Angeles County.
Long Beach has its own health department, and Supernaw wants city officials to examine if the city could lead a program like CARE Court if it’s adopted at the state level.
Whether it would be able to do that is unclear because existing systems like CARE Court are administered through county judicial systems. On Tuesday the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to send a letter of support to the governor’s office and said it would advocate for the necessary funding to implement the program.
“Some of the most vulnerable people suffering on our streets are also suffering from severe mental illness or addiction and we have not had the tools to help them,” Supervisor Janice Hahn, one of the authors of the motion, said in a statement.
“The CARE Court proposal is that missing link. My colleagues and I are not only throwing our support behind the Governor’s effort, but we are also ready to help design this program and make it as effective as possible.”
As written, CARE Court would apply to all counties and would require them to provide a comprehensive treatment plan for people who are suffering from addiction, mental illness or homelessness.
While some councilmembers expressed some concerns about what the program would ultimately look like, members generally agreed that the current approach to helping those the CARE Court program proposal identifies is not working.
There is currently no timetable for the CARE Court program to be voted on. A bill has yet to be introduced to legislators for them to deliberate over.
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