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Behavioral health advocates say Newsom's 'CARE Court' proposal is 'fundamentally flawed'

Undated file photo of volunteers speaking with unsheltered residents as part of the annual homeless Point in Time count.
Courtesy of Downtown San Diego Partnership
Volunteers speak with unsheltered residents part of the annual homeless point in time count in this undated photo.

While the recent announcement of "CARE Court" by Governor Gavin Newsom has been met with praise as a bold new strategy to address the state's homelessness crisis, it's also raised questions about how it will work.

If approved by the legislature, it would require each county in California to add a "CARE Court" — short for Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment program — to their justice system.

That way, families, first responders and others could petition the court to evaluate an individual and potentially place that person in a court-ordered program of treatment and housing for up to two years.


The initiative's main focus is on getting severely mentally ill and chronically addicted people off the streets and into shelters.

RELATED: San Diego initiative aims to close funding gap on affordable housing

However, some mental health professionals have concerns about how CARE Court would work in the real world, particularly when it comes to where new money for outreach and support services will come from.

"This new court structure would pump new resources into the courts: public defenders to provide support to individuals in the court hearing process. But it would not add any new money to the actual service delivery side of the equation," said Michelle Cabrera, Executive Director of the County Behavioral Health Directors Association of California.

Cabrera joined Midday Edition on Tuesday with more on the issue.