SAN DIEGO — Homelessness is one of the biggest issues of our time. Here in San Diego, thousands live on the streets in abject poverty.
Lawmakers have tried various solutions, like more drug and mental health counseling and increasing the amount of funding for housing homeless populations.
But one solution that has gained traction in California is the idea of conservatorship, a process where a chronically homeless individual would forcibly have their finances, treatment and their daily needs taken care of by another individual or a government official.
This morning, City of San Diego Councilmembers Dr. Jen Campbell and Marni von Wilpert outlined a new conservatorship program for the city.
"They're calling 911 just to get food, they're calling 911 just to get clothing, shelter or they're at risk of harming themselves and others," said Councilmember Marni Von Wilpert of the 5th District, at a press conference Tuesday morning.
"These are folks who cannot be helped by cycling through our emergency rooms, and actually need a court ordered intervention to get back on their feet."
In the plan, the councilmembers are hoping to carve out a half a million dollars that would create three new positions in the City Attorney’s office.
These positions would oversee the legal process and identify chronically homeless individuals from behavioral health centers, shelters, and emergency medical services.
"It will be a legal, open due process in which any individual who is referred for conservatorship by this new unit will have free legal representation."
A judge would then place a public guardian to the individual who would be able to legally intervene over that person's wellbeing. Including being able to check them in for drug and medical treatment, finding shelter, food, and clothing.
Right now, the proposal is among the budget requests for financial year 2023 and would be up to Mayor Todd Gloria to put it into action.
While the city has put millions into fighting homelessness, the idea of expanded public conservatorship seems to be gaining traction.
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