SAN FRANCISCO, CA — San Francisco Mayor London Breed on Wednesday announced plans for a new, long-term approach to help get homeless people suffering from mental illness and substance abuse off the streets and into treatment.

According to Breed, the new initiative aims to provide care for nearly 4,000 people — identified using public health data as having the highest level of service needs and needing specialized solutions for getting healthy.

The care would come through a multi-agency pilot program that would streamline housing and health care and increase access to behavioral health services by expanding hours at the city’s Behavioral Health Access Center, located at 1380 Howard St.

Breed said as part of the beginning stage of the initiative, 230 select individuals out of the 4,000 people identified as being most vulnerable will receive immediate care coordination, which includes placing them in permanent supportive housing.

“We know that there’s a mental health crisis here in San Francisco,” Breed said during a news conference at South of Market Mental Health Services on Harrison Street.

“What I see is something that I’ve never seen in my lifetime in growing up in the city and that is people who are in serious, serious crisis,” she said.
“And the fact is that in San Francisco, the frustration is that we have a lot of resources, we have a lot of dedicated revenues to help support people, but we have discovered that the coordination has to be better, it has to be more efficient,” she said.

The initiative seeks to prevent homeless people with severe mental illness and substance abuse issues from being cycled in and out of city jails and emergency rooms and get them the care they need.