The Board of Supervisors this week, led by Supervisor Janice Hahn and Chair Holly Mitchell, threw its support behind AB 2220, legislation that would provide state funding for local Homeless Court programs.
Homeless courts, like those that already exist in Redondo Beach and Long Beach will soon be launched in Torrance and are proving effective in helping the hardest-to-reach individuals get connected with services and housing.
“The Homeless Court model works,” Hahn said. “I have seen how effective they have been in Redondo Beach and Long Beach, and I am partnering with Torrance to launch a Homeless Court program in that city soon. I believe in these programs, so I have done what I can to support them with my office’s discretionary fund, but reliable state funding will be critical to keeping these programs running and helping more cities start their own.”
The City of Redondo Beach runs a Homeless Court program that diverts unhoused individuals from jail and into housing for certain qualifying misdemeanors. An unhoused individual who qualifies for the Homeless Court will be linked with services and programs to get them housing-ready, leading to them entering housing and having their pending charges dismissed.
Since its inception in September 2020, the Redondo Beach Homeless Court has permanently housed 22 individuals. Its success has led the City of Long Beach and Torrance to pursue similar models as well.
“Being unhoused is not a crime,” Mitchell said. “Homeless Court supports our ability to provide appropriate services for our unhoused residents that are impacted by the justice system. The passage of Assembly Bill 2220 will strengthen Redondo Beach’s current Homeless Court efforts and expand this model into other areas of our County to support unhoused individuals with entering and staying in housing.”
Despite their success, Homeless Court programs do not have an ongoing or consistent source of funding. The lack of funding threatens their futures and may deter other cities from implementing their own programs.
Assembly Bill 2220 (AB 2220), authored by Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, aims to address that problem by introducing state funding for Homeless Courts across California.
“Homeless courts in Los Angeles County have been successful in helping the homeless,” Muratsuchi said. “Rather than criminalizing poverty and mental illness, homeless courts provide pretrial diversion programs for minor criminal offenses with one-stop, wraparound services like housing assistance, mental health treatment and addiction treatment.”