San Mateo County officials are hoping to adhd an different maneuver to their multi-pronged attack to tackling nan homelessness crisis: making it a crime to garbage to judge available, impermanent housing.
In a unanimous ballot this week, region supervisors moved guardant pinch nan proposal — contempt important guidance from civilian authorities groups and immoderate bum advocates — which would let authorities to rumor a misdemeanor usurpation to anyone surviving successful a bum encampment who refuses to move into available, impermanent lodging aft a wellness information and astatine slightest 2 warnings.
“One of nan toughest challenges we look is addressing and assisting those successful encampments who thin to diminution services aliases garbage services,” Supervisor Dave Pine said astatine Tuesday’s committee meeting. “The dream is it will beryllium a instrumentality to thief move individuals into shelter.”
Opponents interest it will criminalize homelessness.
But Pine, on pinch committee President Warren Slocum, co-sponsor of nan ordinance, said nan measurement is nan latest successful a host of broad solutions — including a thoroughfare medicine squad and nan conversion of hotels to temporary housing — aimed astatine reducing homelessness successful San Mateo County.
“Forty bum group dice successful San Mateo region each year. ... That’s conscionable not acceptable,” Slocum said. This connection “isn’t astir criminalizing people, it’s astir helping those who really whitethorn not beryllium capable to thief themselves. ... We really do person nan capacity to location group and get group nan thief they need.”
Officials said nan region has up to 30 unused shelter beds disposable each night, though that falls short of nan estimated 44 group surviving successful bum encampments crossed unincorporated San Mateo County. Many much encampments are located successful nan county’s 20 cities, including Daly City and Redwood City, but this ordinance would use only successful unincorporated areas.
After San Mateo made investments to respond to nan homelessness situation successful nan past 2 years, nan number of group connected nan streets importantly dipped, pinch much accessing shelter facilities, according to County Executive Officer Mike Callagy.
“We’re down now to nan hard-to-reach population, nan organization that doesn’t want to travel in,” Callagy said.
If nan connection reaches last support adjacent week, personification successful an encampment who refuses an connection for an disposable furniture will person 72 hours to alteration their mind, receiving 2 written warnings. After that, authorities could rumor a misdemeanor citation, which Callagy said would beryllium handled done diversion programs, for illustration intelligence wellness court.
But nary 1 would beryllium cited if region officials don’t person a furniture available, Callagy said. He stressed that nan extremity is not to rumor tickets aliases way group into nan criminal justness strategy but to get services and lodging to those successful need.
“We judge that erstwhile offered those options, astir group will avail themselves to nan services,” Callagy said. He hopes nan citations are seldom issued but are utilized arsenic a deterrent.
“At nan extremity of nan day, it’s astir redeeming lives,” said David Canepa, different region supervisor. “I don’t bargain into nan communicative that we should do nothing.”
County officials touting nan connection said it was based connected a Houston ordinance, adopted successful 2017, that made bum encampments connected nationalist spot forbidden and tried to chimney group into impermanent housing. While nan programme has been highlighted for its occurrence astatine removing encampments and helping group get disconnected nan streets, nan Houston Chronicle found that tickets and arrests for violating nan proviso — fixed only aft a informing and an connection of lodging — proceed to increase.
While galore West Coast municipalities face ineligible roadblocks to clearing encampments, San Mateo County attorneys said nan ordinance adheres to ineligible precedent that protects nan correct to slumber extracurricular when nary replacement lodging is available.
In Los Angeles, metropolis officials person been making efforts to reside increasing encampments by encouraging group to judge temporary shelter and enforcing laws that forbid blocking sidewalks aliases different circumstantial places.
In San Mateo County, nan projected ordinance has drawn critics, including nan American Civil Liberties Union, belief leaders and nan San Mateo County Private Defender Program, which represents indigent defendants. Critics opportunity they interest astir nan unintended consequences of specified a law.
“Policing is nary measurement to get group into treatment,” said William Freeman, elder assembly of ACLU of Northern California, decrying nan “seriously flawed ordinance.”
While he praised nan region for its caller activity connected homelessness, he said that “anti-camping ordinances induce over-policing and abuse.”
Lauren P. McCombs, an Episcopal deacon and a leader for Faith successful Action Bay Area, called nan criminalization of homelessness “inhumane curen of our unhoused neighbors.”
“Our region needs to lick this situation by ensuring safe and affordable lodging options that are disposable to each residents, pinch beardown incentives and not threats of incarceration,” McCombs said.
County officials connected Tuesday took into relationship immoderate concerns from nan public, amending nan ordinance to see a wellness information earlier warnings are issued and a reappraisal process scheduled to motorboat aft a fewer months.
Supervisor Noelia Corzo said her half-brother is bum successful San Mateo County, truthful she knows first-hand really analyzable nan rumor is. She said she is proud of nan region for “doing thing different.”
“I don’t return this lightly,” she said, “but not doing thing is not moving either.”