A new mental health facility on San Francisco's Valencia Street just opened 30 beds on Tuesday for those at the crossroads of homelessness, mental health illnesses and drug dependency.
At Hummingbird Valencia, up to 20 daytime drop-in clients can find stability and resources amidst a psychotic episode. The facility is part of a citywide effort to provide greater mental health resources for unhoused people, rather than sending them to the emergency room or a jail cell. The remaining 10 beds are for overnight guests, but coordinators plan to expand overnight capacity to 29 after June.
This location is the second Hummingbird facility in the city, following the success of the original location at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Since its opening in 2017, the 29-bed facility has served more than 13,000 clients.
"The Hummingbird model is a proven concept that can make a real difference in the crisis on our streets, and we need many more of them," District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman said in a statement.
The new location will further use "the Hummingbird model" in its care, which includes referrals to primary care, transportation to medical appointments, one-on-one counseling services, discharge planning and employment opportunities.
Positive Resource Center/Baker Places worked with the city to operate the original facility at General Hospital. Brett Andrews, CEO of the organization, says that he's proud to build on the service further.
"We provide a proven, cost-effective alternative to emergency room care," he said. "Our model enables people in crisis to de-escalate and stabilize in a safe, home-like environment, and then connect with additional services, if they choose to."
Though San Francisco city officials saw the need for expansion, it took over a year for the project to reach fruition due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With project costs racking up from delayed construction, The Salvation Army and nonprofit organization Tipping Point Community stepped in to alleviate financial burdens.
"Low-barrier access to care and pathways to permanent housing are essential to reduce the suffering on our streets," Andrea Evans, director of Tipping Point Community's Chronic Homelessness Initiative, said in a news release. "We are grateful that DPH and Mayor London Breed provided an opportunity for philanthropy to play a role in making a second Hummingbird site a reality."
As the latest addition in the city's push for more street resources, organizers with the project hope to collaborate with street medical teams such as the Homeless Outreach Team, the new Street Crisis Response Team and the Department of Public Health's Street Medicine and Comprehensive Crisis Services for urgent care client referrals.
"Hummingbird Valencia provides us with another linkage in a network of programs that are bringing people experiencing a crisis on the streets to a safe place indoors where they can stabilize before taking their next step toward wellness," said Dr. Grant Colfax, the city's director of public health.