SAN FRANCISCO—San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced on Friday, May 21, a proposal to fund a new Street Overdose Response Team (SORT) to help people find immediate treatment after an overdose. Overdose fatalities on city streets reached a historic high of 699 accidental overdoses in 2020.
SORT is an immediate, street-based response team for homeless people who have survived an overdose to engage in the behavioral health system of care, according to a release. It will be a part of San Francisco’s street response teams including the Street Crisis Response Team and the Street Wellness Response Team.
“By getting to people immediately and then being consistent with our follow-up, we hopefully can get them on the path to stabilization and to recovery,” said Mayor Breed in a statement.
Synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, are a primary driver in overdose deaths both nationally and locally. Over 87,000 Americans died of an overdose between September 2019 and September 2020, making it the highest data ever recorded, according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention. People who survive an opioid overdose are two to three times more likely to die from a fatal overdose than those who never have overdosed.
According to the CDC, the rise in opioid overdoses has been outlined in three waves. The first wave began with an increase in prescription opioid overdoses, followed by a wave of heroin overdoses, and a third wave of illicitly manufactured fentanyl overdoses.
“The overdose crisis on our streets requires a wide range of approaches, including meeting people where they are in the moment when we can get them the help they need,” stated the mayor.
SORT will require $11.4 million over two years to include two response units, three follow-up units, and a supervisory team, according to a release. One team will be launched by August 1, 2021, if SORT is approved in the Budget when it is finalized at the end of July.