Concern Expressed Over Housing Homeless And Serving The Elderly At Patton State Hospital

By John Marquez
As a concerned citizen, I want to express my strong opposition to Assembly Bill 349, authored by James Ramos. While I acknowledge the intention behind the bill is to address the urgent issues of housing and mental health treatment for homeless individuals, I believe that the proposed approach of lumping homeless people with elderly, senior individuals for treatment at Patton State Hospital is not a suitable solution and raises serious concerns.
First and foremost, I am deeply concerned about the potential consequences of co-locating homeless individuals with elderly patients in a mental health treatment setting. The needs of these two groups are vastly different and combining them in the same facility could lead to conflicts, safety concerns, and inadequate care for both populations.
Patton State Hospital also treats those who are deemed incompetent to stand trial such as crime offenders with mental health disorders as well as subjects who are found to be not guilty by reason of insanity.
Elderly individuals may require specialized care that caters to their medical and cognitive needs, while homeless individuals may require more comprehensive and holistic approaches to address their unique challenges, including social support systems, addiction recovery services, and pathways to stable housing.
Moreover, housing homeless individuals at Patton State Hospital, which traditionally serves as a mental health facility, raises questions about the appropriateness of the environment for individuals who do not have severe mental illnesses. Placing homeless individuals in a facility designed for psychiatric treatment might inadvertently stigmatize them and exacerbate the social challenges they already face. It is essential to consider alternative approaches that prioritize creating safe and supportive environments specifically tailored to the needs of homeless individuals.
Additionally, elderly people may view treatment at Patton State Hospital as a step towards being committed by the judicial system for treatment.
AB 349 might inadvertently divert resources away from improving and expanding dedicated homeless shelters, transitional housing programs, and community-based mental health services. These resources are crucial for addressing the underlying causes of homelessness and mental health challenges, and redirecting them to a single facility could limit the effectiveness of broader solutions.
Lawmakers need to consider a more nuanced and comprehensive approach that includes input from a diverse range of stakeholders, including experts in homelessness, mental health, social services, and community organizations. We need solutions that address the root causes of homelessness and mental health issues while respecting the dignity and unique needs of each affected individual.
While I support the efforts to address the critical issues of homelessness and mental health, I cannot support AB 349 in its current form. I kindly request Assemblyman Ramos to reconsider the proposed approach and explore alternative strategies that prioritize appropriate care, housing, and support for both homeless and elderly individuals.
I hope lawmakers will make decisions that reflect the best interests of our community and ensure the well-being of all individuals involved.
According to the Legislative Counsel’s Digest:
AB 349, as amended, by Assemblyman James Ramos, would allow Patton State Hospital to be leased to provide housing and mental health services for homeless individuals.
Existing law authorizes the California Department of General Services to perform various duties relating to state real property, including authorizing the director of general services to let [i.e., lease] a building located at Patton State Hospital to a nonprofit corporation or local government, for a period not to exceed 20 years, for the purpose of providing services to elderly persons.
Assemblyman Ramos’s bill would delete the 20-year lease maximum and would additionally authorize the director of general services to lease the building described above for the purposes of providing housing to homeless individuals and providing mental health services to those individuals.
AB 349 states:
The People of the State of California do enact as follows:
SECTION 1. Section 14672.95 of the Government Code is amended to read:
14672.95. Notwithstanding Section 14670, the director of general services may, with the consent of the State Department of State Hospitals, let a building located at Patton State Hospital to a nonprofit corporation or local government for either of the following purposes:
(a) Providing services to elderly persons.
(b) Providing housing to homeless individuals and providing mental health services to those individuals.
John Marquez is a concerned citizen of San Bernardino County.

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