In the early 2000s, CW, our Outreach Specialist at MHASF, was homeless in San Francisco. Though he understands the need for temporary 5150 holds, CW’s experience being homeless and witnessing underfunded homeless services is the reason why he opposes SB 1045.
I was in a condition where I would be qualified by SB 1045 to have my rights taken away. I’ve been picked up by the police on a number of occasions for my mental health issues. I even called the police on myself most of the time because I was experiencing mental health issues.
But according to SB 1045, if that would have been enacted when I was on the street, I would right now, probably not have my rights. And probably not become the person I become. Because I got the help I needed without my rights being taken away.
SB 1045, to me, is such a broad law. I can basically be penalized for being homeless and having mental health issues. I think this problem was created because they took away psych-unit beds. SB 1045 would not be here if there wasn’t a defunding of programs, homeless shelters, and 24-hour drop-in centers. Homeless people do not have a place to go and get rest.
My mental health got really, really bad when I had nowhere to sleep. In the past, K-9 units chased me out of Golden Gate Park. It used to be a campsite and then the greenery was cut back and certain police officers would go down there to kick out the homeless people. A K-9 unit would come down at 6 in the morning. You gotta pack up. You gotta leave. Your stuff was thrown out.
SB 1045 is a different kind of attack on the homeless. I just think we need to fund places like the Progress Foundation. The Progress Foundation is a place that houses mental health challenged people. They have been underfunded for years. And I don’t understand if it works why is not being funded more.
SB 1045 came out of vicious cuts to mental health services. It came out of a lack of housing. If you cannot sleep and you’re steadily being harassed, you give up hope.
Is SB 1045 necessary? I don’t think so. We need to work on all those issues. Physical issues. Mental health issues. And affordable housing issues. Then the need for SB 1045 wouldn’t be around.
If we don’t have beds for people now, if you lock people up, where are they going to go? Where are the aftercare services? When people get out of San Francisco General, they get our number.
SB 1045 is like a band-aid on an open wound. If you want to get people off the street who have mental health challenges, then you need to find out how they got there. And then start working on their recovery.