Skip to main content

Abandonment of mentally ill homeless gets Bee's attention

It has been a long-standing complaint from this blog that those suffering the most in Homeless World Sacramento — homeless people who are mentally ill, a great many of whom are schizophrenic — have been abandoned by both local government and the homeless-help service providers in our metropolis.

A Sacramento Bee headline article on Sunday, "Sacramento officers take fewer in crisis for help" [titled "Cops seek help for fewer in crisis" in hardcopy] tells us "In the last two years, the number of incident reports showing people taken into custody as 5150s [Involuntary psychiatric hold] dropped nearly 40 percent in the combined territory of the Sacramento police and county sheriff's departments, going from 2,215 during 2008 to 1,352 during 2010, records show."

The article goes on to say, "… the effects of declining 5150s involving police are disputed. Some professionals said it shows residents slipping through the cracks, endangering themselves and the public. Others said community groups have picked up the slack, and that the old system created too many involuntarily commitments."

I can tell you that in Homeless World, as this blog has been screaming, the declining 5150 is due to homeless-services providers dodging their duty and allowing those who suffer most not to get any attention. It is a scandal.  Even if we grant that the mental-health professionals also bailed on the mentally ill wandering on the streets, it remains a scandal that the homeless-services providers in Sacramento didn't 'step up' to help these abandoned, suffering people.

The headline Bee article is co-written by Cynthia Hubert, the Bee's Homeless Beat reporter who I have heard described as "Loaves & Fishes' friend," and "someone who can be counted on to get our [Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee's] word out." Certainly, Hubert's "Homeless Beat" reportering has fully followed the Loaves & Fishes line, ignoring Loaves & Fishes problems and failures.

In 2008, Volunteers of America [VOA] stopped its mentally-ill outreach program, which employed, maybe, a dozen people.  I believe I am correct in saying that they lost outside funding, probably from the county, and determined not to fund the program from the nonprofit's donations.  Nothing was substituted for that disbanded program.  VOA should have partially funded the outreach program from reducing the outrageous  $300,000 salary that is paid to the organization's President/CEO — though that would have to have been a national-headquarters decision, rather than one from the Sacramento-area office.  Still, wiping out Outreach is in significant part the cause of failure to help mentally ill people 'out on the street' in the last couple years.

At Loaves & Fishes, some people with training at identifying mental illness should be employed on the Friendship Park staff, but that doesn't happen since the administration is focused on promoting Safe Ground, which abides by the backwards, curious politics of the L&F Board of Directors which is stuck on 1930s-era radical political ideas relating to the Catholic Workers' Movement.  [Quoting wikipedia: "The movement campaigns for nonviolence and is active in opposing both war and the unequal distribution of wealth globally."] Basically, they suppose they can turn America into a socialist utopia where everyone is guaranteed a job, technological advancement is stopped and all assets are owned by the collective.  It's an Orwellian nightmare on steroids.  And part of promoting an Orwellian America involves hiring new employees on the basis of proven loyalty to Loaves & Fishes, and not in regard to what skills are needed that would most benefit the homeless population at the park.

As I wrote recently,

Loaves & Fishes fully ignores most mentally ill people who use many services at the Loaves & Fishes’ Mall of Services. The very evidently mentally ill that Sacramento citizens can see out of the streets are getting no help whatsoever or very little help and are the most miserable and neglected. It is known that the pair of Genesis program social workers literally never go into Friendship Park or make outreach efforts to help the most in need. VOA’s robust outreach program was de-funded in 2008 by the county, and homeless-services charities in our county [including L&F, of course] have not stepped up. At Friendship Park, and at Loaves & Fishes otherwise, homeless people who buy into L&F management's radical politics get the jobs, not qualified people who can diagnose 5150 candidates or otherwise compassionately understand and aid people who are mentally ill or in crisis.


Nagarjuna said…
Scandalous is too kind a word for what's going on in "homeless world" and in the country at large with the inexcusable neglect of the mentally ill and the abject indifference to their suffering.

Of course, some, particularly those on a certain side of the political aisle, will say that we don't have the money to help them. Yet, I suspect that even if we had oodles more money, it would somehow end up going somewhere else, especially into the pockets of the already rich.

But it seems to me that there are certain moral imperatives that every society, and especially one such as ours, should honor, including that of caring for "the least among us," and that, from that starting point, the money and the means simply must be found to fulfill them with no excuses accepted for falling short of the mark.
Tom Armstrong said…
Thanks, Nagarjuna. And 'amen' to your accurate, well-chosen words.

Popular posts from this blog

The Mission Five Years Ago, And Today

I have spent the night the past two weeks plus at the Union Gospel Mission and am having an excellent time of it -- not only regards to sleeping in the dorm that the mission has, but also listening to the sermons that are delivered in the early evening. The Christmas music that is performed is also splendid. [And the food -- the FOOD -- has been fantastic during my stay so far! A happier Tom there couldn't be.] I chatted with a pal last night about The Mish – about how things were about five years ago when we both used the mission’s services frequently, and how thing are, today.
Five years ago, there were a lot scuffles between the guys when the front gate was opened in the early afternoon and in the area near the contact window there were some brawls as guys fought over where guys were in line to get a bed in the dorm.
Nowadays, however, the mission is very much a peaceful place both on the grounds of the facility and and out on the street.
I do not know what transformative eve…

Homeless Sacramentans lose case that would have given them the right to set up outdoor camping

8/11/13 I certainly give attorneys Mark Merin and Cat Williams credit for pursuing a case against the city of Sacramento to give homeless Sacramentans the right to set up tents and a campsite. I wanted them to win their case, but they didn't. They lost it.

BUT, it is also necessary to look at the particulars of the case that Merin and Williams brought and see that the situation underlying the court case was not very compelling.

During the period eight years ago when 22 homeless campers set up their tents and brought in supplies to Mark Merin's vacant lot at C Street, near 12th, there was loud noise and plenty of other mayhem. Drug dealers were on the street encouraging buys from the campers. The Hernandez couple that lived in a house nearby were constantly being taunted by the campers, disrupting their lives.

Per always with Safe Ground camps, calm was deserted for the sake of boisterousness.

Leader John Kraintz and the other Safe Grounders would claim to have signed strict a…

After a Three-Month Hiatus, a Fall from a Ladder & a Broken Wrist, Evangelist Jimmy Roughton Returns to Union Gospel Mission to Preach

After being away from Union Gospel Mission for a quarter of a year, Jimmy Roughton returned to preach at UGM on the cold night of December 13 -- despite suffering [a little? a lot? dunno.] from a fall from a ladder that likely immediately preceded a significant injury (a wrist that was broken).

It was good to see his group from Capital Free Will Baptist Church up on the pulpit, with Roughton rough-and-ready to seduce and inspire the happily-captivate crowd at UGM.

Roughton told us in his opening words that he was now in his 27th year coming to the mission.

I recall the first preaching I had heard from Roughton on June 13, 2009. At that time and up to the current time, Roughton is the only preacher I had ever heard evoke Pascal's Wager -- which is something he would do, occasionally thereafter at the mission. He would evoke Pascal's wager, yet again, last night [12/13/17].

Pascal's wager

Last night, Jimmy evoked Pascal's Wager. He did so near the end of his talk, citing …