SAN FRANCISCO—A budget for Fiscal Years 2020-21 and 2021-22 was released on Tuesday, August 11 which includes $4 million from the General Fund to pilot a Street Crisis Response Team. The pilot program is the first step to transforming the way the city responds to non-violent emergency calls involving mental health or substance abuse.

According to the City of San Francisco’s website, each team will include a community paramedic from the Fire Department, a behavioral health clinician, and behavioral health peer from the Department of Public Health. The team will be made up of behavioral health specialists, medical professionals, and support workers who have had life experience with homelessness, mental illness, and/or substance use disorders.

With four years of experience in implementing specialized units, Chief Jeanine Nicholson, of the San Francisco Fire Department said:

“They provide compassionate advocacy and medical assessment in order to connect vulnerable people to definitive care for acute medical, mental health, and social needs. Our approach has proven very effective. We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with the Department of Public Health and expand this program.”

Aside from the initial $4 million, additional funding will occur if the consensus Business Tax Reform ballot measure passes in November 2020. Proposition C revenues will enable the city to direct a total of approximately $16.8 million to the pilot program over the next two years. Only then, will the city of San Francisco see the program expand and implement additional Street Crisis Response Teams.