San Francisco is adding 400 mental health and addiction treatment beds — an 18% jump in capacity — as the city tries to expand help for struggling residents, many of whom are homeless.
The new beds and facilities are at various stages of development. Of the 400 total, 140 will be ready to open this year, while 260 are still being planned and designed with no opening date set. The city currently has 2,200 treatment beds.
The new beds will bolster the work of the city’s new and expanding street outreach teams, which include mental health and medical experts to respond to people in a psychiatric or drug crisis.
The expansion — part of the city’s Mental Health SF reform efforts meant to reimagine its behavioral health system — likely won’t be enough to serve the city’s most vulnerable residents. Nearly two years ago, the health department identified nearly 4,000 San Francisco residents who faced homelessness, mental illness and addiction, and vowed at the time to prioritize 230 of them for help.
The pandemic exacerbated the city’s drug crisis as the powerful opioid fentanyl took hold and overdoses spiked. Pressure has mounted on Mayor London Breed and the Board of Supervisors to address the ongoing crisis.
“This is an unprecedented expansion of our system of care and treatment for people with mental health and substance use disorders,” Breed said in a statement.
The announcement comes as the city pours money into its homeless and mental health services, using a combination of federal and local funds, and money collected through Proposition C, a controversial 2018 business tax that is now free to use after years of being tied up in a law suit. The new expansion will be funded with about $30 million from Prop. C. An additional $6 million comes from the city’s general fund and grant funding.
Deputy Director of Health Naveena Bobba said the expansion will improve patient flow so that individuals receive timely treatment.
“The investments we are making in the expansion in our residential care and treatment system will be critical to help us meet our goal for rapid access to recovery-oriented care and treatment,” she said.
The expansion effort is guided in part by recommendations from a 2020 report, Mental Health SF efforts and data that identified the types of treatment in highest need.
The 400-bed expansion includes the 20-bed SOMA Rise Center that will open in the fall of 2021, offering a safe indoor space — or sobering center — for people who have used methamphetamine or other substances to monitor their health while intoxicated and connect them with other health and social services.
A 10-bed residential treatment facility is also being designed for young adults with serious mental health or substance abuse disorders.
“That’s huge,” said Jennifer Esteen, former psychiatric nurse for the San Francisco Department of Public Health and Service Employees International Union vice president for organizing. “We absolutely need this inventory.”
“We need this and more,” she added.
The health department is also negotiating to buy facilities for another 73 beds for people with mental health issues who require assistance with activities of daily living, including some for the elderly. The department plans to create an additional 140 new beds to support people leaving residential substance use treatment — a last step before independent housing.
Most recently, the city opened the new Hummingbird Place respite center, with 30 new beds, in February in the Mission after ann plansouncing a year earlier.
“People who are mentally ill and addicted to drugs need immediate access to treatment and care,” said Supervisor Matt Haney in a release. “These treatment beds cannot come soon enough.”
Emma Talley is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: email@example.com Twitter:@EmmaT332