CAHS in Action
Struggling with the recent death of his father and worsening symptoms of depression, 22 year old Joe turned increasingly to drug use in attempts to cope with his tumultuous reality. In summer 2014, officers arrested Joe- recently homeless- for shoplifting and trespassing as he had taken to hotel rooftops for a safe place to sleep. The San Francisco court released Joe on pretrial diversion to our Court Accountable Homeless Services team (CAHS) in order to link Joe with the support he needed to stabilize and attend future court dates. This partnership would last just under 2 years.
Day after day, Anthony Beliso and other Pretrial case managers guided Joe through a maze of shelters, clinics, and appointments necessary to arm him with ongoing mental health, substance abuse, and medical treatment as well as housing. For Joe, this long road to recovery was littered with relapse, doubt, confusion and even a brief return to jail. However, the CAHS team refused to give on this young man, and continued to advocate in court and communicate with service providers- protecting the network of support Joe had worked tirelessly to build. Because of this advocacy, the Court released Joe to a residential treatment program- an opportunity that would later link him with permanent housing and employment. CAHS oversaw every stage of Joe’s transition and backed him up at every step of his uphill battle.
Today, Joe celebrates over one year of sobriety and stands as a role model to his peers in recovery. He loves poetry, writing, and graphic art and leaves in few days to partake in a major soccer competition in Glasglow, Germany.
Additionally, all Joe’s charges were recently dismissed (after 68 total court appearances).
This dedication to individuals experiencing homelessness sets San Francisco Pretrial Diversion apart. While the practice of pretrial diversion has spread all over the country to mitigate the immense legal, moral, and economic costs of pretrial detention, it is rarely linked with the intensive support people need to get back on their feet and interrupt cycles of chronic incarceration. By addressing housing, mental health, substance abuse, and employment, individuals have an opportunity to stabilize and strengthen their own livelihoods as they fight open court cases from the “outside.” For many of our clients, these community resources continue to provide crucial treatment and support long after their court cases conclude.
Needless to say, the expansion of transitional and permanent affordable housing remain critical to our cause. Today we proudly stand with #SFHomelessProject to call for this invaluable support.