With double-digit increases in homelessness throughout California this year, the politics surrounding the issue are finally changing, albeit slowly. Politico reports that the minds of some Democratic lawmakers are opening to new ideas:
State officials are weighing more aggressive tactics to deal with the escalating crisis of people with mental and physical illnesses living on the streets, downplaying concerns increasingly raised by advocates worried about potential breaches of civil liberties for especially vulnerable populations.
“The crisis is so bad people’s minds are really opening up and the policies are shifting,” said Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco. “Legislation that would have had no chance five or 10 years ago can pass.”…
A new state law authored by Wiener makes it easier for three counties to “conserve” — or take guardianship over — homeless people with several mental illness or substance use disorders who bounce in and out of short-term psychiatric commitments. California voters could weigh in next year on a proposed ballot measure that would sentence homeless offenders to treatment instead of jail time.
The ballot measure is called the California’s Compassionate Intervention Act (CCIA). It seeks to offer a middle ground between criminalizing homelessness and making city sidewalks a law-free zone. Here’s the description of what the CCIA would do: