Authorities in San Francisco may soon be able to take people suffering from mental illness off the city’s streets and into treatment and housing after the Board of Supervisors on June 4 passed an ordinance to implement the state’s Senate Bill 1045.
The bill, which passed and was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last year, allows the city to create a new conservatorship program for severely mentally ill people who can’t care for themselves and provide housing and treatment.
The vote allows for the city to implement SB 1045 under a five-year pilot program. Supervisors passed the ordinance 10-1, with Supervisor Shamann Walton voting against it.
SB 1045 was authored by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, and Mayor London Breed has been a vocal supporter of implementing it.
Earlier June 4, ahead of the vote, Breed said, “We need the tools to provide the support necessary for people who are mentally ill and suffering on our streets, and right now we don’t have everything we need to help them. We’re using our jails to cycle people with mental illness in and out of the criminal justice system. It’s not a solution.”
“Too many people are deteriorating and dying on San Francisco’s streets, and we have a moral responsibility to help them,” Wiener said in a statement. “We need to offer voluntary services to those in need, but for people incapable of accepting services, we need to consider helping them via conservatorship. The purpose of a conservatorship is help people stabilize and get healthy, ultimately transitioning to permanent housing.”
The Coalition on Homelessness, a homeless and disability advocacy group, has spoken out against the bill.
According to the coalition, the bill would allow police officers, instead of medical professionals, to decide whether a person should be placed under conservatorship.
“This fundamental problem still exists and will be harmful and dangerous for the community,” coalition officials wrote on Twitter. “The last three people SFPD killed were people in psychiatric crisis. Legislation is not just a piece of paper — it has serious, lasting impacts on people’s lives. And SB 1045 puts our most marginalized folks’ lives at risk.”