SB 1011 (Jones) Encampment Restrictions – Oppose

April 2, 2024

The Honorable Aisha Wahab
Chair, Senate Public Safety Committee
California State Senate
1020 N Street, Room 545
Sacramento, CA 95814

RE: Senate Bill 1011 (Jones) — OPPOSE

Dear Senator Wahab:

Mental Health America of California (MHAC) stands in opposition to Senate Bill 1011 (Jones), legislation that prohibits individuals from sitting, lying, sleeping, or storing personal property on streets or sidewalks if they have access to a homeless shelter or are within 500 feet of a public or private school, open space, or major transit stop. The bill also mandates a 72-hour notice before any enforcement action can be taken against individuals found in violation of these provisions.

MHAC is a peer-run organization leading the state in behavioral health public policy and advocacy since 1957. The mission of MHAC is to assist and encourage communities, families and individuals to experience hope, wellness and recovery from mental health and substance use disorder issues through voluntary services that are delivered in their local community with compassion and respect for everyone’s dignity and autonomy.

This legislation poses a significant threat to the safety and well-being of individuals living with mental and behavioral health challenges, particularly those experiencing homelessness. Approximately 25% of unhoused individuals in California live with a serious mental illness (SMI), with 71% of them unsheltered.[1] To effectively provide necessary services and support, including shelter, resources must be easily accessible to all in need. Unfortunately, this bill fails to allocate any additional funding to assist individuals on their path to recovery. Instead, it penalizes them for circumstances beyond their control, exacerbating rather than alleviating their challenges. This concern is underscored by the 2018 decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the Boise, Idaho case, affirming that it is unconstitutional to criminalize homelessness when adequate shelter is unavailable.[2]

Moreover, this legislation is unduly broad and would appear to modify the penal code to potentially affect all Californians, extending beyond the intent of impacting the unhoused community. As written, individuals would be prohibited from hosting picnics or barbeques in parks or open spaces. Anyone waiting for the local bus at a transit stop would also be prohibited from placing their personal property at their feet. Additionally, street vendors may be at risk of losing their ability to conduct business in public spaces under the proposed changes.

For these reasons, we strongly oppose Senate Bill 1011 and ask for your “No” vote. If you or your staff have any questions, or if Mental Health America of California can be of any assistance on this or any other behavioral health bill, please do not hesitate to contact me at, or our Interim Director of Public Policy, Karen Vicari at

In Community,

Heidi Strunk
President & CEO
Mental Health America of California

[1] Coc homeless populations and subpopulations reports – Hud Exchange. HUD Exchange. (n.d.).

[2] Robert Martin v. City of Boise. 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. (n.d.-b).