SAN JOSE — In a major move to tackle the state’s homelessness crisis, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation Wednesday to push some Californians with severe mental illness into treatment — kicking off what’s sure to be a long and challenging process to get the unprecedented program up and running across the state.
The new system, dubbed CARE Court, overhauls the state’s mental health care system by allowing courts to order people in crisis to submit to treatment plans — including those living on the street who may be too sick to accept care voluntarily. The legislation marks a victory for Newsom, who has made it a priority to clear the state’s extensive homeless encampments that often serve as a home of last resort for those whom California’s mental health system has failed.
Newsom dreamed up the idea of CARE Court and first announced it in March at Crossroads Village — a San Jose treatment facility run by Momentum for Health. On Wednesday, he returned to the same spot, surrounded by supportive legislators and local city and county officials, to sign the bill into law.
“The problem is solvable. We know that. We don’t have to fall prey to the cynicism and all the negativity that it’s just too big,” Newsom said. “It’s hard. It’s big. But we can meet this moment and we can create many, many moments in the future to do justice to those that need us and are suffering and struggling.”
The new framework targets people with severe, untreated schizophrenia and other