Switching Strategies: San Francisco Lawmakers Propose Radical Shift To BATTLE Addiction (WATCH)

By Lisa Pelgin | Wednesday, 19 June 2024 04:30 PM
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Image Credit : Photo by EA Worldview

San Francisco's legislators have unveiled a new proposal that could potentially redirect unrestricted state funds towards drug-free housing, according to Fox News.

This legislation, spearheaded by city supervisors Matt Dorsey and Rafael Mandelman, marks a significant departure from the state's previous drug-tolerant policies, including the 2016 Housing First law. This law had effectively barred state funding for sober housing, instead mandating support for drug-permissive housing.

Rafael Mandelman, one of the supervisors leading this legislative effort, emphasized the need for a more holistic approach to addressing homelessness and drug addiction. "It’s not enough to get folks indoors and keep them alive until they die of overdose," Mandelman stated at a recent news conference, as reported by KQED. "The point is to get them indoors so we can support them in living long and full and productive lives."

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Stanford psychology professor Keith Humphreys echoed Mandelman's sentiments, highlighting the necessity for a diverse range of supportive housing options. "San Francisco needs different kinds of supportive housing for the diverse range of people who are homeless, including recovery-oriented housing for people with addictions," Humphreys said. "Research shows that recovery housing helps residents cease substance use, find a job and stay out of jail."

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State Assemblymember Matt Haney, who represents San Francisco, has also expressed his support for the proposed redirection of state funding towards sober and recovery housing. "With the deadly, devastating impact of fentanyl, our goal must always be to help people get off of and away from deadly illegal drugs," Haney stated in an April press release. "We have to support people who are ready to take the next step in that journey of recovery, as part of a drug-free residential recovery community, and make sure those opportunities are available."

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The proposed legislation has also garnered support from anti-drug and recovery experts, including Joshua Brathwaite. "I’ve been sober for 16 months, but I can’t find any available drug-free housing that can give me the programming and support I need to continue being sober," Brathwaite revealed in Haney's press release. "I’m in danger of relapsing and falling back into a cycle I fought so hard to get out of."

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Jim Wunderman, President & CEO of the Bay Area Council, described the intersection of homelessness and drug use as a "Category 5 public health tragedy." He criticized the current state law that prohibits Recovery Housing projects from receiving state support, forcing homeless Californians suffering from addiction to choose between life on the streets and housing where drug use is prevalent.

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The city of San Francisco, along with other major Californian cities, has been under increasing pressure from constituents to address drug-related crime. San Francisco Mayor London Breed has advocated for a more "aggressive" law enforcement approach, leading to the arrest of over 1,300 suspected drug users and more than 1,000 suspected dealers in the past year. However, only a small percentage of these individuals have voluntarily sought substance abuse treatment following their arrests.

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