Mental institutions and our Homeless

Our mentally challenged Homeless population has been estimated to be 50% to 80% of our homeless population depending on one’s source. With 600 homeless persons in El Dorado county, that is a lot of people. Where do we put them? Who is to care for them? We put them in a benevolent mental facility! But where is a mental facility and where did they go? And should they be returned? ….  “Institutions first started opening their back doors (releasing long-term residents) around the mid-1950s, then starting to close their front doors (admitting fewer people, especially for longer stays, and reducing the number of available beds within institutions) starting around the late 1960s and the early 1970s to the mid-1980s, then shutting down in earnest from the mid-1980s onward,” Cohen of the Nomura Research Institute said.

Using data from state mental health agencies, the NRI (Nomura Research Institute) found that across 22 states, a total of 62 psychiatric hospitals were closed or consolidated between 1997 and 2015. According to Cohen, the aim of deinstitutionalization was to move severely mentally ill people out of state institutions for treatment in less restrictive environments. But it left many severely mentally ill patients with nowhere to go.

“Society after World War II discovered a new passion to solve social problems and include the excluded, and all sorts of institutions (including orphanages, institutions for mentally retarded persons, homes for unwed mothers, youth detention centers, etc.) were phased out, with their residents often in effect kicked out from where they had lived for years,” Cohen said.

We now have these as our
homeless population.

The deserted former Juvenile Detention Center could be converted to such a place to treat and care for our mentally challenged homeless population during the day and  open it in the evenings to the current Nomadic Shelter to run as an overnight shelter for our other homeless persons now living in El Dorado County.

Legal challenges to the practice of incarcerating a person against their will whether or not they are competent to make challenges, would be a county/state government problem. During the night, the Nomadic Shelter has the experience of housing the unaffected homeless population in a portion of that complex.