A new bill was passed by the California legislature, and it affects California’s homeless and mentally ill. Many of these people consist of the elderly population, but they can be of any age. Formerly known as SB1045, the law would permit Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco counties to opt into a five-year pilot program expanding the existing conservatorship rules to include people with both mental illness and substance abuse disorders. Some are in favor of the law, while others claim it is a violation of civil rights.

In theory, the conservatorship option for the homeless and mentally ill seems to be a great option. Once up and running, the conservatorship would provide specific individuals, including the homeless and mentally ill, with permanent housing and medical care. Each person would have the right to a public defender and due process, including the power to petition to end or contest the conservatorship or conservator. There are a variety of requirements that would qualify a person to gain access to the conservatorship.

Some say as few as 10 and as many as 100 homeless/mentally ill in San Francisco could be selected. While this sounds on the surface like a positive shift for the homeless, those opposed to the measure are not comforted by the allegedly small numbers of people who would be eligible. They believe coercing people into treatment is a civil rights violation. The Los Angeles and San Diego areas passed on the law, and there hasn’t been a move to implement it in these counties yet.

As this continues to play out, it will be curious to see how other counties approach this law. For those who have given the conservatorships for the homeless legal approval, will they be implemented to help people? Or is it a civil rights violation, as some contest?