SAN FRANCISCO—Mayor London Breed revealed on October 30 that the expansion of mental health beds in San Francisco and the introduction of legislation that allows the city of San Francisco to temporarily conserve individuals suffering from severe mental health and substance use issues. London’s plan for new mental health beds will include adding 70-90 new mental beds next year.

In a press release from the Mayor’s Office, the new legislation will enact Senate Bill 1045, authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), along with Supervisor Rafael Mandelman during the Board of Supervisors meeting on October 30. Mayor Breed’s announcement along with Senator Wiener and Supervisor Mandelman at Hummingbird Place, the first Navigation Center is tailored to serve clients with behavioral health and substance use issues.

“This is about getting people who are severely ill the help they desperately need,” said Mayor Breed. “There is a small subset of our homeless population that are clearly, visibly suffering on our streets. They are frequently in and out of the hospital or criminal justice system, but they never receive the comprehensive care they need to stabilize and get back on their feet. It is simply inhumane for us to allow them to continue to deteriorate without intervening.”

To meet the goals of adding 70-90 new beds in the next year, Hummingbird will double its current capacity by adding 14 new beds in January. In addition, Mayor Breed directed the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) to accelerate and increase a plan to add mental health beds at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. The original plan was to add 40 more mental health beds in 2021. Mayor Breed directed SFDPH to explore ways to increase the number of beds and deliver them sooner. In addition to providing groundbreaking services to care for patients, the beds can serve individuals at varying stages of the conservatorship process.

“I am thrilled that San Francisco is moving to implement my bill, SB 1045, which will help some of our most vulnerable residents get the help they need,” said Senator Wiener. “Today’s rollout means we are closer to getting people off our streets and into housing and services that will help them get healthy. I am grateful to Mayor Breed and Supervisor Mandelman for understanding that the faster we implement this tool, the faster we can help those suffering on our streets.”

“We cannot continue to allow our neighborhoods to serve as open air mental institutions, our jails as shelters, and our hospitals as temporary way stations between the two,” said Supervisor Mandelman. “SB 1045 is not a cure-all, but it does offer a new tool to help people suffering from severe mental illness and addiction. Its implementation also gives us an opportunity to take a hard look at our response to these challenges, to build on what’s working and fix what’s broken.”

The first 14 new beds will open at Hummingbird Place in January 2019, raising the total number of beds at the facility to 29. Hummingbird, which is located in the Behavioral Health Center on the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital campus, served a total of 363 clients last year and deliver day and overnight programs to adults with mental health and substance use needs.

“When a person walks into Hummingbird Place, it means they want to change their life. We are grateful to Mayor Breed for expanding these needed services for some of the most vulnerable San Franciscans,” said Roland Pickens, Director of the San Francisco Health Network, the health care delivery system operated by the Department of Public Health. “The psychiatric respite model gives people a break from the stresses of the streets, an opportunity to regroup in a home-like environment and a chance to move toward recovery and wellness with the help of peer counselors.”

SFDPH estimates that SB 1045 legislation can impact between 50 and 100 people in San Francisco. Individuals are likely to require city services—12 percent of the total homeless population that accessed SFDPH services in the last year accounted for 73 percent of the costs. SB 1045 goes into effect on January 1, 2019. Under the law, the Board of Supervisors has to pass an ordinance to enact the new conservatorship program.