By some accounts, chronic homelessness in California is like the weather: everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything. Objectively, the problem is getting worse. But aside from being depressing, the view that nothing is happening is inaccurate, as many new initiatives are being planned or launched at the local and state levels. In this final installment of the UCCS Winter Symposium on Chronic Homelessness, an academic expert and two public policymakers will explore ways in which California is beginning to address the problem of the chronically unsheltered homeless, what barriers remain, and how innovative solutions might restore some of the sheen to California’s golden reputation.
Dr. Margot Kushel, MD is a Professor of Medicine at University of California San Francisco, and Division Chief and Director of the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations, and Director of the UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative. Dr. Kushel is a practicing general internist at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and her research focuses on the causes and consequences of homelessness and housing instability, with the goal of preventing and ending homelessness and ameliorating the effects of homelessness and housing instability on health. Dr. Kushel is the principal investigator of the ongoing NIA funded study, the Health Outcomes of People Experiencing Homelessness in Older Middle Age (HOPE HOME) study, which examines the causes and consequences of homelessness in older adults, and the principal investigator of the California Statewide Study of Homelessness.
Senator John Laird represents the 17th State Senate District, which includes all of Santa Cruz and San Luis Obispo counties, the majority of Monterey County, as well as parts of Santa Clara County. Senator Laird previously served as the Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, member of the State Integrated Waste Management Board, a member of the State Assembly, Executive Director of the Santa Cruz Aids Project, and two terms as Santa Cruz Mayor. Senator Laird’s lifetime of public service and social justice advocacy saw him become one of the first openly gay mayors to serve in the United States. Senator Laird has been a long-time resident of Santa Cruz with his spouse John Flores.
Dr. Toby Ewing is the Executive Director of the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission, which is the state agency working to transform California’s community mental health system. Dr. Ewing leads the Commission’s work in undertaking deep dive policy projects designed to support legislation, new investments, and programmatic reforms. In 2020, the Commission approved a group of California counties to use state innovation funds on the Full Service Partnership Project, a community-based program for individuals experiencing severe mental illness and aims to reduce hospitalizations, homelessness and incarceration. Recent projects focus on enhancing prevention and early intervention opportunities in mental health, strengthening mental health through workplace initiatives, expanding school mental health strategies, addressing suicide and suicide risks, and reducing criminal justice involvement of mental health clients. For most of his career, Dr. Ewing has worked on governance reform, oversight and improving outcomes of public programs across a range of policy issues, including mental health, child welfare, immigrant integration, workforce and higher education, veterans’ issues, performance management, and accountability systems.
*This talk will be given as a webinar as well as a limited in-person option. The link will be provided on Tuesday, February 14th to those that have registered by 5:00pm on Monday, February 13th.*
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