Town Hall on Homelessness and Mental Illness In Southern California

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As of November 30th, there have been 26 homeless deaths this year - many with a mental illness - on the wealthiest streets in the country. On any given night, over 4,000 people are homeless in Santa Barbara County: these are families, women, men, children. This isn't an issue. This is a crisis.

Consumer Advocacy Coalition & Casa Esperanza Homeless Center present a town hall meeting and panel on homelessness and mental illness in Southern California.

DATE:    Friday, December 4, 2009

TIME:    6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Seating at 5:30 pm.

PLACE:    Santa Barbara Public Library’s Faulkner Gallery, 40 E. Anapamu St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101

WHAT:    Panelists from Kern, San Diego and Santa Barbara County will educate the public on a crisis that challenges not just cities in our county but counties in our state. As of November 30th, there have been 26 confirmed homeless deaths in Santa Barbara County. On any given night, 4,000 residents are homeless. In Kern County, there are approximately 4,500 homeless - 200 of which are children. The panel will tackle issues such as outreach to the chronically homeless with mental illness, shelter to those in the coldest months of the year and treatment for homeless veterans and support for their families. Mayor-elect Helene Schneider will open with her first public remarks on this topic since winning the election.

The ACLU of Southern California filed a lawsuit against the city of Santa Barbara for intentionally violating the constitutional rights of disabled homeless people by criminalizing them through enforcement of its “anti-sleeping ordinance,” while giving them no reasonable alternative to sleeping on the street. Mark Rosenbaum, legal director for the ACLU/SC said, "Essentially, the city and its law-enforcement personnel treat the chronically homeless as if they were outlaws." (Walker, Isabella. Santa Barbara Independent "ACLU Sues City Says Anti-Camping Laws Criminalize Poor and Disabled." Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Fund for Santa Barbara’s Executive Director Geoff Green will moderate participants. Panelists include Mike Foley, Executive Director of Casa Esperanza; 2nd District Supervisor and Mental Health Commission Governing Board Alternate Janet Wolf; 3rd District Mental Health Commissioner and founder of CAC Roger Thompson; Kern County NAMI President Cindy Gill; Patrice Maniaci, co-founder of NAMI Frontline; and Director of CAC Kern County Shannon Jonson. Paul Cummings, awarded 2009 NAMI Consumer of the Year, will deliver closing remarks.

Childcare, Spanish translation and sign interpretation will be available. Reserved parking and seating for the media is available with advance notice.

The Consumer Advocacy Coalition was founded on July 5th, 2008. Their mission is to reform mental health services, empower others and fight stigma by keeping the community educated and informed. The organization held the first press conference to oppose Proposition 1E and was instrumental in its statewide defeat. The organization has offices in both Santa Barbara and Kern County.

Casa Esperanza Homeless Center’s mission is to help homeless individuals and families to achieve self-sufficiency by helping as many people as possible access the services needed to transition to stable housing and employment.

Leah Juniper, Public Relations for CAC Santa Barbara, 805/280-5003

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Roger Thompson
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