Sobering Centers Offer a Safe Place To Recover From Intoxication. Every Community Should Have One
StatNews • December 13, 2023
In this op-ed, Shannon Smith-Bernardin, PhD, MSN, RN, assistant professor of nursing, highlights sobering centers as an alternative to bringing an intoxicated individual to the emergency department or a jail. She emphasizes that sobering centers provide a safe, monitored environment for people to sober up, and various models have developed to serve the specific need of the communities and populations they serve. "The path to recovery often requires a comprehensive, individualized approach. A central function of sobering care is to take the opportunity to engage, motivate, and link individuals to community resources that may provide ongoing stabilization and recovery." Dr. Smith-Bernardin writes. This op-ed was published as part of the Public Voices Fellowship in partnership with The OpEd Project and funding from the California Health Care Foundation.
Don't Neglect Tobacco Use in People Experiencing Homelessness — Cessation Programs can Save Lives and Improve Financial Stability
MedPage Today • December 4, 2023
In this op-ed, Maya Vijayaraghavan, MD, MAS, director of the UCSF Smoking Cessation Leadership Center, highlights the need for widespread access to tobacco treatment among people experiencing homelessness and the structural issues underpinning tobacco use. She emphasizes that in the homelessness advocacy and provider community should not normalize tobacco use among people experiencing homelessness and there is increased awareness and trained staff in shelters to provide tobacco treatment. "Providing tobacco treatment will substantially reduce harm, save lives, and improve financial stability by supporting quitting." Dr. Vijayaraghavan writes. This op-ed was published as part of the Public Voices Fellowship in partnership with The OpEd Project and funding from the California Health Care Foundation.
How Should We Define Homelessness?
The Progressive • November 21, 2023
In this op-ed, Cheyenne Garcia, senior research analyst at the Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative, advocates for policymakers, elected officials, funders, and activists to update the definition of homelessness to include those temporarily staying with family and friends. She emphasizes that the current practice of classifying such people as at risk of, rather than as experiencing, homelessness, denies them access to necessary resources and the opportunity to exit homelessness. "It is vital to dedicate more resources to those who are staying in precarious housing situations that can leave them homeless on the streets or in shelters at any time." Ms. Garcia writes. This op-ed was published as part of the Public Voices Fellowship in partnership with The OpEd Project and funding from the California Health Care Foundation.
How Racism Underpins the U.S.’ Homelessness Problem
Boston Globe • November 9, 2023
In this op-ed, Kara Young Ponder, PhD, director of community engagement and racial justice at the UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative, explains how neighborhood design and homeownership are entrenched in Jim Crow-era segregation practices. She outlines how the discriminatory, race-based residential segregation, has contributed to Black households being disproportionately vulnerable to displacement. Dr. Ponder writes, "Structural, institutional and interpersonal racism in our housing, criminal justice and education systems mean that Black Americans disproportionately struggle to find consistent housing, are vulnerable to displacement into homelessness and face more barriers when trying to get rehoused." This op-ed was published as part of the Public Voices Fellowship in partnership with The OpEd Project and funding from the California Health Care Foundation.
Sacramento is Seeing More and More Homeless Youth. How Can We Help Them? | Opinion
Sacramento Bee • November 7, 2023
In this op-ed, Marguerita Lightfoot, PhD, MA, Associate Dean for Research at the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health, calls attention to youth experiencing homelessness in Sacramento. She outlines the higher rate of mental health-related hospitalization among youth, with almost 70% of youth experiencing homelessness reported experience depression and anxiety. Dr. Lightfoot also highlights the resources and programs that would help. "Every person experiencing homelessness needs help. But youth are too often treated as adults, and do not receive the tailored, developmentally appropriate services they require." This op-ed was published as part of the Public Voices Fellowship in partnership with The OpEd Project and funding from the California Health Care Foundation.
California Makes it Hard to get Help for Opioid Addiction. Why?
San Francisco Chronicle • November 6, 2023
In this op-ed, Leslie W. Suen, MD, MAS, an assistant professor of medicine in the UCSF Division of General Internal Medicine at San Francisco General Hospital, highlights the lack accessibility of the most effective evidence-based treatment for opioid use disorder in California. She outlines the effectiveness of methadone treatment to help people with opioid use disorder, and how Californians restrictions regarding methadone create unnecessary barriers to care. "If having to go to a clinic every day for medication isn’t onerous enough, California tacks on additional state laws that make staying in methadone treatment even more challenging for patients" said Dr. Suen. This op-ed was published as part of the Public Voices Fellowship in partnership with The OpEd Project and funding from the California Health Care Foundation.
Media Blame Homelessness on Substance Abuse. The Data Tell a Different Story.
Truthout • November 6, 2023
In this op-ed, Margot Kushel, MD, a professor of medicine and director of the Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative at UCSF, explains how homelessness in California is a housing issue. Others often blame California's homelessness problems on high rates of mental health and substance-use problems, but the data tells a different story. Dr. Kushel writes, "It has taken decades for California to develop its housing crisis, and it will take many years to fix it. Making the wrong diagnosis and prescribing the wrong solution won’t end the crisis." This op-ed was published as part of the Public Voices Fellowship in partnership with The OpEd Project and funding from the California Health Care Foundation.
COMMENTARY: Latinos Must Fight for Housing Justice
CALÓ News • October 17, 2023
In this op-ed, Dalma Diaz, MA, a health equity fellow at the California Health Care Foundation, highlights the increase in people experiencing homelessness among the Latinxs. Despite the rising rental costs and displacement, more than two thirds of Latinx said they are not worried about experiencing homelessness in California, and yet research has shown that Latinxs are more likely than other ethnic groups to experience first time homelessness. Ms. Diaz writes, "Let us not return to the apathy, silence, or whatever it was before the pandemic that kept us on the sidelines of the homelessness crisis. It’s up to us, now, to do the work in coalition, and make the change for future generations." This op-ed was published as part of the Public Voices Fellowship in partnership with The OpEd Project and funding from the California Health Care Foundation.
Decriminalize Drug Use. Do It Now
Common Dreams • October 13, 2023
In this op-ed, Zena Dhatt, a Qualitative Research Project Manager at the Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative, calls for action to decriminalize drug use. She outlines that hyper-policing and escalation of drug war policies will not resolve the increasing rates of overdose or people experiencing homelessness. Ms. Dhatt writes, "Prison and jail cells should not be an alternative to housing or treatment." This op-ed was published as part of the Public Voices Fellowship in partnership with The OpEd Project and funding from the California Health Care Foundation.
Opinion: People Think Drug Use Causes Homelessness. It’s Usually the Other Way Around
Los Angeles Times • October 4, 2023
In this op-ed, Ryan Assaf, PhD, MPH, a postdoctoral fellow with the Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative, highlights the common misconception among many Californians that substance use is the primary cause of people losing their housing. He outlines that drug use is correlated with the length of time someone is homeless and the extremity of their living conditions. Dr. Assaf calls for a housing first approach, writing, "Regardless of an individual’s drug use, policymakers and advocates should prioritize getting people experiencing homelessness into safe, secure and stable housing." This op-ed was published as part of the Public Voices Fellowship in partnership with The OpEd Project and funding from the California Health Care Foundation.