Last week, state Sen. Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) bill to ensure that his 2018 conservatorship legislation can be fully implemented passed the Assembly with a 64-15 vote and passed the Senate with a 38-0 vote, giving Gov. Gavin Newsom 30 days to sign or veto the legislation.
Wiener’s current bill, Senate Bill 40, builds on his previous legislation, SB 1045, to allow San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego counties to better enact new conservatorship programs focused on providing supportive housing and wraparound social services for those who can’t care for themselves.
Changes to SB40 include increasing notice to individuals about potentially being conserved; allowing counties to initiate 28-day temporary conservatorships prior to a full six-month housing conservatorship; and clearly defining the standards for admission, renewal and conclusion of the housing conservatorship.
“It is inhumane to allow people to deteriorate and die on our streets, and we must do more to help them,” Wiener said. “Our counties don’t have the tools they need to effectively help severely debilitated individuals who suffer from severe mental health and substance abuse disorders. This legislation makes California’s conservatorship laws more effective.”
Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu, 4th District, is in support of Wiener’s bill.
“We can’t address our homelessness crisis without addressing a mental health crisis on our streets,” Ryu said. “I spent years working in community mental healthcare, and I saw what was working and what wasn’t. The current system – and current laws – are failing to help the sickest among us. We need to reform mental healthcare laws and expand mental healthcare access to meet this crisis, including through a conservatorship pilot program.”
In order for an individual to be considered for conservatorship, an individual must be suffering from serious mental illness and substance use disorder, such that those co-occurring conditions have resulted in frequent detentions under a 5150 hold or frequently being held for psychiatric evaluation and treatment.
SB 40 clarifies the standard by which an individual must be evaluated for purposes of the conservatorship program at the point of initiating the conservatorship, renewing the conservatorship and challenging/terminating the conservatorship. SB 40 also includes new steps to be taken which will ensure that this conservatorship program is the last resort, and that the potential conservatee is well-informed of their potential to be conserved.
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