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California to Vote on Bill Expanding Mental Health Services, Specifically Amongst Unhoused Individuals


California legislators are set to vote on three bills that will expand the current legislature to include those suffering from mental issues, specifically those who are unhoused. 

Set for voting on Sep. 14, the new proposed bills will expand to include other individuals in the classification of “gravely disabled” people of a $4.7 billion bond for mental health services. With the new rulings, Senate Bill 43 will be amended to include those who are left unhoused in California because of mental health issues. 

Currently, under Senate Bill 43, the definition of “gravely disabled” individuals refers to people who are unable to provide basic needs such as shelter, clothing and food for themselves or if they are considered a danger to either themselves or the people around them. 

With the potential rulings, those who are suffering from substance use disorder and may be potentially harmed or also people who have mental health issues will be included in this bill. The majority of those who will be included in the amended definition are expected to be those who are unhoused.

Per an interview with Spectrum News, State Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman emphasized her belief that now is the time for the bill to be expanded. 

“We have the opportunity. The state has been [sic] very purposeful — this administration — on addressing the chronically mentally ill who also happen to be homeless a lot of times,” said Sen. Eggman per Spectrum New. “So I think people understand it needs to happen.”

As the rates of those who are unhoused in California increase, a majority of the people who have been left without a home also report mental health issues. According to a recent study by the University of California, there are approximately 172,000 unhoused people in the state, comprising 30% of the nationwide percentage of unhoused individuals. 

Of these individuals, 82% reported that they suffered from a mental health condition or had issues with substance abuse, while 66% reported that they were still suffering from issues such as anxiety, depression or hallucinations. 

Approximately 90% of the unhoused individuals reported that they lost their homes because of the state’s inability to provide affordable housing. 

While all ethnic and racial groups were affected by the state’s inability to provide housing, Black Americans were found to be disproportionately affected. Although Black Americans make up six percent of the population in California, they comprised 26% of the unhoused people involved in the University of California’s study. 

“The results of the study confirm that far too many Californians experience homelessness

because they cannot afford housing,” said the director of UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative, Margot Kushel, MD, per a public statement. “Through thousands of survey responses and hundreds of in depth interviews, the study’s findings reflect the incalculable personal costs of homelessness.Our policy recommendations aim to inform solutions to the homelessness crisis.”

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