San Francisco (KGO) – The cellphone video of an unhoused person being sprayed with a hose by a San Francisco art gallery owner raises many questions and concerns.
Local leaders say the individual is now getting help.
But what about people on the street who suffer from severe mental illness?
Some possible options include conservatorship – a process of entering people into psychotherapy or placing them with a guardian.
The unhoused person sprayed in front of the North Beach Gallery is known by some people as “Q.”
North Beach Citizens is a nonprofit organization providing services for the homeless in San Francisco. CEO Christy Fairchild met Q when the pandemic first began.
“It’s very isolated,” Fairchild said. She thinks Q needs help.
“I’ve seen her walking down the middle of the street, naked in the street, screaming,” said Fairchild. “In my clinical observation of the average person doing this for 20 years, she probably has schizophrenia.”
The art gallery owner, who was videotaped splashing water on Q, said there were repeated attempts to help the individual. He also said that he called the police at least 24 times.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Aaron Peskin represents the North Beach neighborhood.
“Obviously there are cases of individuals out of mind, dying on our streets, who absolutely need to be cared for – even if they are so unwilling or so traumatized that they would benefit from the care that is there. In limited circumstances, this is appropriate, and Keough may be one of those individuals,” Peskin said.
Fairchild said Q has been in and out of hospitals and he thinks the guardianship will help.
“A guardianship would really allow some supervision for someone who can’t maintain need and medication until they can settle into their lives,” Fairchild said.
State Senator Scott Weiner said he was pushing for statewide support for the regency.
“So this year we’re working at the state level to make it easier to keep people who clearly need to be kept and have the county make decisions for them for a period of time until they can be healthy and stable and get back on their feet and decide for themselves,” Weiner said.
According to Wiener, about a third of the homeless have mental health problems or addictions. He said we need more treatment available to them.
Not everyone needs a guardianship. But for the small minority of people who do, Weiner said we need more mental health beds and more infrastructure – whether it’s hospitals or supportive housing.
“We need it to make it less difficult to get them into custody,” Weiner said. “It’s about saving their lives.”
Jennifer Friedenbach is the Executive Director of the Homelessness Coalition.
She said preservation should only be used in rare cases where people would harm themselves or others. Or it will be for people who are seriously disabled and cannot take care of themselves.
“Sometimes this is necessary. But, it shouldn’t be the go-to tool for addressing mental health issues,” Friedenbach said.
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