The homeless living on the streets and in encampments is one of the top issues for many in the 30th District. This is not so much an issue of housing as it is of addiction and mental health. Residents do not feel safe, and it discourages people from patronizing local businesses. My own business has experienced a direct financial impact because of this. Young families are discouraged from visiting parks because of needles and uncomfortable encounters with the homeless.
More importantly, enabling people to continue their addictive behavior is neither compassionate or safe for those who are experiencing homelessness or for the community at large.
Drug, shoplifting and related laws need to be strictly enforced. Prosecutors and the courts cannot continue the catch and release system presently in place, which encourages police to ignore violations. At the same time, addiction recovery programs and mental health facilities need to be made available immediately. Greater resources must be available to help this population.
The state needs to provide greater funding for addiction and mental health programs, including the recertification of Western State Hospital, and help local governments with the court and jail costs associated with greater enforcement.