California officials seek ‘care’ without coercion as new mental health courts launch this fall

Under the new system, family members and first responders can ask county judges to order people with psychotic illness into treatment, even if they are not unhoused or haven’t committed a crime.

How will rural Americans fare during Medicaid unwinding? Experts fear they’re on their own

Rural residents face additional barriers to renewing their Medicaid coverage, including longer distances to eligibility offices, less access to the internet or a lack of health insurance counselors in their communities.

Is the Census taking steps to count the millions of LGBTQ+ Americans overlooked?

The Census Bureau’s plans to test questions about sexual orientation and gender identity in the American Community Survey is the latest step in a years-long push to improve national data on LGBTQ+ people.

Massachusetts has a huge waitlist for state-funded housing. So why are 2,300 units vacant?

One cause of the vacancies is the online waitlist system the state rolled out four years ago.

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As cities struggle to shelter migrants, calls for federal action grow

State and local leaders have resorted to desperate measures—sometimes circumventing the federal government—to find housing and support for the influx of asylum seekers. Plus, more news to use from around the country in this week's State and Local Roundup.

Pandemic unemployment insurance fraud could have cost $135B, says government watchdog

The Government Accountability Office also says that cuts Congress made as part of the debt deal in June has hurt state efforts to prevent future fraud.

Devil in the details: How outdated zoning code stymies development

With an analysis of its antiquated zoning laws and a newly restructured planning department, Boston is laying the groundwork to address housing shortages and meet its sustainability goals.

The Fee Trap: Why Alabama’s local governments can’t shake fines and charges

The state’s tax caps mean governments have to turn to charges to keep running. It may not be sustainable.

Words matter: Climate messaging needs a reboot

By paying close attention to the vocabulary policymakers use to frame climate issues, they can more effectively build public support for climate mitigation.

States will soon be required to track post-welfare employment outcomes

The new rule, part of the debt deal struck in June, is a bipartisan effort by Congress to improve welfare assistance and lift recipients out of poverty.

You might need an ambulance, but your state might not see it as ‘essential’

Ambulance services can receive state money once declared essential services.

An Illinois plan for ending book bans? Republican senators aren’t on board

A tense hearing on Capitol Hill showed partisan divisions over who should decide what books libraries and schools offer.

Drug decriminalization stumbled in Oregon. Other states are taking note.

The rocky start could slow the movement to treat addiction as a public health matter.

What Arizona and other drought-ridden states can learn from Israel’s pioneering water strategy

COMMENTARY | Arizona is considering a multibillion-dollar desalination project to address its urgent water needs. Three water experts call for a go-slow approach and point to Israel as a role model.

Efforts grow to undercut prosecutors’ authority

COMMENTARY | Some Republican lawmakers in Georgia are looking to remove District Attorney Fani Willis, a Black Democrat representing a majority Black district, from office. The effort in Georgia is not happening in a silo.

Some states protect Section 8 renters, but enforcement is elusive

The protective laws can take years to have an effect for voucher holders.

How cutting red tape can encourage housing conversions

By streamlining zoning and broadening eligibility for adaptive reuse programs, Los Angeles and Kissimmee, Florida, encourage developers to convert business properties to desperately needed housing.

Researchers quantify communities' risk of a mass shooting

The new statistical analysis model would allow state and local agencies to understand the risk of a mass shooting and what they can do to prepare ahead of time.

Most states have yet to permanently fund 988. Call centers want certainty.

Only eight states have enacted legislation to fund the 988 hotline through phone fees, and others are relying on short-term funding. Mental health experts and call center operators say more money is needed to ensure residents receive the care they need.

Motels converted to house families at capacity, new homeless intake center expected to hit limit

The model of converting motels into shelter space has helped address underlying issues of homelessness by providing housing and individualized case management, but one county needs more of them.