The Gulf Coast Homeless Coalition wants to fully support the city of Galveston and Galveston Police Department for recognizing that jailing mentally ill persons isn’t the answer (“Galveston police propose mental-health response division,” The Daily News, Aug. 31).
This approach would most assuredly benefit the homeless in our community who are often unhoused because they suffer from some form of mental illness.
According to Mental Illness Policy Org., 140,000 seriously mentally ill go homeless and 392,000 seriously mentally ill are in jail.
The Texas Homeless Network notes that in 2020, 4,893 of the 27,229 homeless persons counted suffered from a serious mental illness.
For those in our community that picture a homeless person as a bearded man in a cardboard box living in Los Angeles, the Texas Homeless Network has a wake-up call for you. In 2020, the Texas Homeless Network reported that among the 27,229 homeless persons encountered during the Point in Time Count: 4,048 were children 17 or younger and 1,663 ages 18 to 24. That youth number includes 233 youth with small children.
Those sobering statistics include the one vulnerable population that would be most traumatized if treated like a “criminal” when caught homeless and sleeping in a car with children: domestic violence victims. The network reported 3,013 survivors of domestic violence among the homeless in 2020.
Michelle Wormly, American Institute of Certified Planners of Woman Inc., explains: Intimate partner violence is one of the most common forms of violence against women.
It could be physical, sexual and emotional abuse and controlling behaviors by an intimate partner and occurs in all settings and among all socioeconomic, cultural and religious groups. Such violence may lead women to negative health consequences, including mental health disorders. Therefore, it’s important to implement intimate partner violence screening and counseling safely and effectively throughout the health care delivery system.
The “partner” model suggested by the city of Galveston and Galveston Police Department was tried in Dallas and has already proven to be impactful. A project here, like the one in Dallas, would also provide the data needed to support more mental health treatment options in Galveston County.
The Gulf Coast Homeless Coalition shares the vision of the Texas Homeless Network: “to make homelessness, rare, brief and non-recurring in Texas.”
We urge the community to get behind Mayor Craig Brown and Police Chief Vernon Hale in helping to support and find the resources for this important program.