Timmy, 63, who had lived in his wheelchair on Pacific Palisades streets for years, and then on Santa Monica streets, has passed.
Sharon Kilbride, who volunteers with The Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness, wrote “He was found unresponsive in his wheelchair in Santa Monica on the street [October 30]. He was transported to St. John’s and passed away the next day.
According to the U.S. News & World Report story “The Homeless Are Dying in Record Numbers on the Streets of Los Angeles” it is noted that “A record number of homeless people — 918 last year alone — are dying across Los Angeles County, on bus benches, hillsides, railroad tracks and sidewalks.
“Deaths have jumped 76% in the past five years, outpacing the growth of the homeless population, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis of the coroner’s data.”
This editor wrote a 2017 Editorial “Homeless Mentally Ill Need Dedicated Help” that was prompted by Timmy, and Ruby, and other Pacific Palisades homeless living on the streets.
“One problem in discussing the homeless is we lump them all into one category. However, if a woman suffers domestic abuse and is living on the streets or if someone is kicked out of a rent-controlled apartment to make room for a new development or if a teen doesn’t have a family or if someone has lost a job and can’t pay the rent, that’s a much different situation than say. . .someone like Timmy, someone with mental illness.
“Almost everyone in the Palisades has seen or has heard about Timmy, who had taken up residence on the sidewalks on Sunset. A few weeks back, he took a train from L.A. with plans to go to Seattle but got off in Portland. Most likely he will return here.
“Before he left, the police had taken Timmy to the hospital on a 5150 (involuntary psychiatric hold) several times, but he was often released within days, and would return to the Palisades with his wheelchair, where he would sleep on the sidewalk.
“He has been approached many times by PPTFH social workers, who always seek a permanent shelter for him. At one point he took services, only to leave the shelter after three days because he wasn’t allowed to smoke indoors.
Sleep well, Timmy. Sorry that you couldn’t be helped. Sorry you died on the street, alone.
It is sad but not at all surprising to learn that Timmy died alone on the street. Our inability to hold people as “gravely disabled” or “a danger to self or others” past 72 hours is a major limitation in helping people like Timmy. Court decisions make it very challenging to hold someone for even two weeks, which is not enough time to address long-standing medical and psychiatric problems. So, someone living as Timmy did must be released well before he has been helped.
Police time is not well spent trying to find a bed for an uncooperative 5150 patient whom they cannot leave until admitted. Medical/mental health professional time is also not well spent trying to justify a longer stay that will either be denied or turn out to be inadequate. In the end, it has become accepted that not much can be done under the current legal guidelines.
We need our civic leaders to advocate in the courts for a change in the status quo. We also need to have more longer term care options. Leaving patients with disabling psychiatric and medical conditions on the streets because in their impaired judgment that is where they wish to be is not humane.
Linda, above has nailed it. The way forward is through the courts and Legislature.
I’m not sure where it lies currently, but the grave disability expansion seems to be with the State.
I’d encourage your review and advocacy with State representatives as you deem appropriate. The State is the governing body to move forward on healthcare and laws…
For those on the streets refusing ‘different,’ and/or stabilizing (briefly) within jails and hospitals (only to be discharged shortly thereafter and continue a process of deterioration), there is no alternative for outreach teams other than monitoring, documenting and advocating for individuals when in acute distress. This is a complicated and nuanced discussion, but we need other alternatives than jail, court and self-determination.
Hopefully the Boise decision will go to the Supreme Court in 2020 and force the issue.
Chalk another on up for Mike Bonin.
It is not true that Timmy could not be helped. Whatever help he was given just did not work for him. Very sad in deed.
Timmy most certainly could have been helped. The help offered was sadly not what would work for him.