San Francisco Might Guarantee Mental Health Care

Number Of Homeless On San Francisco Streets Rises 17 Percent Over Last Two Years

San Francisco might become the first city in the country to guarantee access to mental health care for all residents. Supervisor Hillary Ronen says Mental Health SF would create a 24-hour center for mental health and substance abuse treatment center.

"We have a crisis of people who are severely addicted to drugs and that have severe mental health illnesses that are wandering the street and that desperately need help," Ronen said in an interview Tuesday morning.

"San Franciscans are ready for a bold and big change. They're sick of little measures around the edges. They want a fix to this crisis. The status quo is dangerous," she said. "We can't keep failing."

Ronen and Supervisor Matt Haney unveiled their plan yesterday and will officially present the proposal to the board next week. It is then expected to be placed on the November ballot for voters to decide. The measure would only need a simple majority vote, but a separate measure to tax large companies to pay for it would need a two-thirds majority.

"Mental health and substance use programs in San Francisco right now are completely uncoordinated and a mess. We all see it ... when we walk on the street and see people in misery," Ronen said. "Every single day we see people being released onto the street with their hospital bands on who are still clearly in crisis and don't know what to do and where to go," she said.

Photo: Getty Images

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