California Senate Republican Caucus

02/20/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/21/2020 01:25

Senator Brian Jones Introduces Legislative Package to Address Homelessness Crisis

Sacramento - State Senator Brian Jones (R-Santee) announced today he has introduced a package of five measures aimed at moving Californians currently homeless and living on public streets, sidewalks, and parks into temporary, transitional housing.

'The Democrat's current 'Housing First' mandate - which prohibits programs from doing assessments for violent tendencies, mental health challenges, or substance abuse issues - is a disaster, and is definitely not working,' stated Senator Jones. 'Additionally, Governor Newsom's recently conceived plan for 'Regional Overlords' has been ripped by the Legislative Analyst and homeless advocates. Clearly, a new approach is needed.'

Jones's five-bill package emphasizes compassionate assessment of each homeless person's behavior, mental health, and substance issues before placing that person in a temporary housing situation. The measures also emphasize utilization of existing non-profits, charities, and faith-based housing programs rather than state government suddenly setting up new homeless housing bureaucracies.

'Organizations such as the Salvation Army (nationally), Father Joe's Villages (San Diego), St. Paul's Senior Services and PACE program (San Diego), and St. John's (Sacramento) already have proven, successful temporary or transitional shelters and housing,' said Jones. 'The state, rather than coming in to take over and mismanage these programs, should instead provide grant-style funding to these successful programs.'

Specifically, Jones's five measures would do the following:

  • SB 1200 gives local governments additional funds to provide homeless individuals mental health services, if the local government can demonstrate their enforcement of quality of life misdemeanors, such as public drug use, public defecation, blocking the sidewalk.

  • SB 1201 allows grant funds to be awarded to any agency or department that can demonstrate success in helping the homeless community, rather than limiting funding to organizations that practice California's 'Housing First' model, which forbids requiring sobriety in order to receive services.

  • SB 1202 grants funds to non-profits to create or expand employment and job-skill training programs for homeless individuals. These programs offer opportunities for homeless individuals to develop job skills and gain work experience to gain future employment.

  • SB 1203 grants funds to local law enforcement agencies that wish to establish and operate homeless outreach teams (also known as a 'wrap around service' team) for the purpose of coordinating housing and supportive services to ensure community care. These teams are compiled of housing and homeless service provider agencies, medical personnel, and legal counsel that immediately assess the needs of the homeless individuals on the street, and immediately determine the best option for their housing and/or medical treatment. This bill also allows volunteers such as nonprofits or graduate students to participate on these teams.

  • SB 1204 encourages schools and school districts to collaborate with organizations that provide identification of, and provide services to, homeless children, such as counseling, social welfare services, meals, and housing.

'I've spent countless hours discussing these issues with experts and researching programs throughout the state that are showing results. I've looked into many models proven successful in other states and countries. I've reached the conclusion that many communities and organizations, inside and outside of our state, are already making progress, and we should follow those models. There is no need to reinvent the wheel,' said Senator Jones.

'Last year, I tried to discuss this with Governor Newsom and Mayor Steinberg (in his capacity as Co-Chair of the Governor's Homeless Commission). Neither of them was interested in having the conversation then, but perhaps they've finally woken up to the issues our state is facing and will be willing to talk now.'