Santa Monica’s Homeless Community Court is a problem-solving court program that addresses the legal issues of homeless individuals with the purpose of connecting them to services and permanent housing. By addressing root problems that lead to criminal behavior participants are less likely to repeat offenses that land them back in front of a judge.
Participants faced with charges related to non-violent misdemeanors are given the option to enroll in the program. Once enrolled, they are required to meet regularly with a case manager from a local service provider that connects them to supportive services like job training, rehabilitation or mental health care, and permanent housing. Upon successful completion of the program, charges are dismissed by the court.
The Court is a collaborative effort among the City of Santa Monica, Los Angeles Superior Court, the L.A. County Public Defender’s Office and homeless service providers. The L.A. County Department of Mental Health (DMH) leads mental health administration by providing a dedicated staff psychiatrist to work with the community-based providers assigned to each participant, and to evaluate the participant and coordinate their mental health care via connection to mainstream DMH services.
The success of this program is based on the shared belief that helping a participant access and maintain appropriate mental health treatment, sobriety, and housing is good for both the community and the defendant.
Results: February 2007 - September 2018
178 (61%) program graduates
118 program graduates moved into permanent housing