San Francisco supervisors Tuesday unanimously passed an ordinance that aims to overhaul the mental health system and substance abuse system, and the way The City handles people in crisis.

Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who cosponsored the Mental Health SF legislation, said:

“We designed the system to provide access to mental health services, substance abuse treatment and psychiatric medications to vulnerable residents, specifically those who are homeless, uninsured or enrolled in Medi-Cal or Healthy San Francisco.”

The bill includes provisions for a 24/7 mental service center and street response team, and an Office of Coordinated Care to help keep track of patients.

Additionally, the legislation provides for an Office of Private Insurance Accountability to assist residents navigate private insurance.

The legislation was originally slated to appear before voters on the March 2020 ballot, but supervisors Ronen and Matt Haney were able to reach a compromise with Mayor London Breed last month.

Jerold Chinn/SFBay Supporters of a March 2020 ballot measure called Mental Health SF held a rally outside of City Hall in San Francisco, on Wednesday, October 30, 2019.

Ronen’s office estimates it will run $100 million annually to operate the full program. The City has yet to identify the funding.

Several components of Mental Health SF are dependent on finding new revenue sources.

Mayor London Breed and board President Supervisor Norman Yee are looking for new revenue sources, including overhauling The City’s business tax structure.

Breed said in a statement:

“With the passage of Mental Health SF, we can keep moving ahead to address the serious mental health and substance use challenges on our city’s streets. As we work to reform our entire mental health system, we’ll continue prioritizing the most vulnerable people, and providing targeted services to those who are experiencing homelessness, mental illness, and substance use disorder.”

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay. A San Francisco native, he has spent a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Send tips to jerold@sfbay.ca or at Twitter @Jerold_Chinn.

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