The Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice (CTIPP) is concerned about a trend of policies that forcefully institutionalize people experiencing homelessness in hospital settings.
In New York City, Mayor Eric Adams has released plans to involuntarily hospitalize unhoused people who “appear mentally ill” and are deemed “dangerous” to themselves, even if they pose no risk of harm to others. California Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed legislation that makes it easier for the judicial system to force treatment on unhoused people with certain “mental illnesses.” Portland, Oregon, Mayor Ted Wheeler is considering similar policies.
In response, Jesse Kohler, CTIPP’s Executive Director, issued the following:
“In an attempt to put our unhoused neighbors out of sight, these elected officials have resorted to involuntary institutionalization – locking them away in hospital settings. Involuntary institutionalization can traumatize people when they need stability, autonomy, community support, patience, and compassion the most.
“The trauma-informed approach to addressing homelessness is a housing-first approach. We have seen unhoused people fulfill their life goals by providing housing, followed by additional, optional services. Housing first policy works. The reality is a lack of housing stability can be the cause of mental instability. We must focus on supporting people in meeting their basic needs by providing housing stability first and then giving people the right tools to heal and flourish.
“We urge these policymakers to speak with people who have lived experience with forced institutionalization in psychiatric settings and to reverse course, instead focusing on solutions that will work: improving voluntary mental health services and making safe, stable housing accessible for all.”
In the coming months, CTIPP will publish a toolkit that addresses the misuse of trauma science to justify policies that are not trauma-informed.
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