County seeks help for homeless people with mental illnesses

Supervisor Kathryn Barger
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Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger announced on Tuesday her effort to aid people with mental illnesses who are homeless.

Barger’s motion, approved unanimously by the Board of Supervisors, will direct county agencies to investigate and report ways L.A. County can better serve this population.

This comes almost a month after Measure H was passed county-wide, which will raise taxes one-fourth of a cent to gain $355 million a year for 10 years to provide services to homeless people.

“Within the county’s chronically homeless population, there is a significant segment of individuals who refuse treatment, but are clearly in need of care,” Barger said in a statement.  “Their condition prevents them from accepting treatment or providing for their own basic needs, yet they don’t meet the nebulous 5150 threshold of ‘being a danger to themselves and others.’”

California’s Welfare and Institutions Code Section 5150 authorizes an officer or physician to confine a person they believe to have a mental disorder that could endanger themselves or others or is “gravely disabled.” The county plans to evaluate the current protocol to hold a person involuntarily for 72 hours under the code.

“I strongly believe that if someone’s mental disorder prevents them from providing for their own basic needs then they are in fact, ‘gravely disabled’ and in need of intervention and care,” Barger said.

County officials will review the state’s mental health laws to determine L.A. County’s role in providing mental health care for homeless people. An analysis will be conducted by the Department of Mental Health and the County Counsel, who will report back with recommendations in 45 days.

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661-287-5525
On Twitter as @ginaender

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