California News

Sep 12, 2013 8:21 PM by Cameron Polom, KSBY News

San Francisco suing Nevada for allegedly shipping homeless to California

The city of San Francisco is suing the state of Nevada. The city says a psychiatric hospital dumped nearly 1,500 homeless and mentally ill patients onto buses with one-way tickets to surrounding states, including California.

"After a month long investigation we were able to confirm that over the course of about four and a half years, 1,500 psychiatric patients were discharged from the largest psychiatric hospital in the state of Nevada," said San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera.

He says patients at Rawson Neal Psychiatric Hospital were given three days' worth of medication, a small amount of food and a one-way bus ticket to California.

"We were able to examine bus tickets and look at discharge records and match them up," said Herrera.

He says patients were encouraged to take advantage of social services in surrounding states.

It's still unknown if any of those people were sent to the Central Coast, but local law enforcement and city leaders say rumors of this practice have steadily increased over the last few years.

San Luis Obispo's Police Chief says it's not only wrong, but irresponsible.

"If you get a case where people are just getting bus tickets and sent across, you're essentially just moving your problem to another state," said Chief Steve Gesell. "And you're doing nothing for that individual to help them get better."

The long-rumored practice can also pose a major financial burden to the cities where these patients end up.

"They're not going to have any kind of family connections or friends to help take care of them," said San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill. "So they immediately become burdens, and sometimes worse, depending on whether they're mentally ill, depending on if they're drug and alcohol addicted, they will cost us money. We certainly have seen that in our community."

KSBY reached out to Rawson Neal Psychiatric Hospital for comment. While they would not do an interview, they did deny sending patients to other cities. They said that of the nearly 1,500 cases over the past five years, they did determine that 10 of those were improperly discharged.

That's a number Herrera disagrees with based on his own investigation. He is seeking $500,000 from Nevada in compensation for social services paid for by the city of San Francisco.

The lawsuit is a class action suit filed on behalf of every city and county in the state of California. The state of Nevada has a month to respond.

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