Burgeoning numbers of mentally ill people on the streets

About a third of homeless people have serious mental illness, according to the Treatment Advocacy Center. With California’s homeless population nearing 130,000, that means an estimated 43,000 suffer from serious mental illness.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, a former state senate leader appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to lead a new commission on homelessness and supportive housing, calls the problem “horrendous.” Steinberg co-authored the Mental Health Services Act, a tax on millionaires intended to help address this issue.

“There’s nothing worse than seeing this increase in the numbers of people on our streets, many of whom are sick and who want to get off the street” he said.

As tent encampments proliferate, efforts to address this issue are gaining traction. In 2018 voters passed the No Place Like Home Act, allowing the state to borrow $2 billion to increase the supply of permanent supportive housing, which pairs affordable housing with mental health services.