San Francisco

San Francisco to Launch Program to Combat Opioid Overdose Deaths at SRO Hotels

With overdoses related to fentanyl on the rise in San Francisco, the city will begin implementing a new program at Single Room Occupancy hotels aimed at curbing those overdoses and related deaths.

Mayor London Breed announced the new SRO program on Monday, which will be carried out by the Department of Public Health, the Harm Reduction Coalition and the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing.

"We must do more to fight the serious danger that fentanyl presents to our community, and this new program will help us meet people where they are and provide SRO residents with the training and medication to prevent overdose deaths," Breed said in a statement.

"This effort builds on San Francisco's long history of implementing innovative solutions, working with the community, and emphasizing harm reduction to save lives," she said.

According to data from the health department, fentanyl deaths in San Francisco have been on the rise since 2014. Fentanyl deaths jumped from 36 in 2017 to 89 in 2018.

Fentanyl is now the leading cause of opioid overdose death, above heroin and prescription opioids.

"We knew fentanyl was coming and have been monitoring it closely," Dr. Grant Colfax, the city's director of public health said. "Now it's here. We will continue to expand our aggressive work to prevent overdoses and increase access to treatment."

The new program will focus on SRO residents and could possibly result in naloxone-rescue boxes throughout SRO buildings.

About 30 percent of overdose deaths happen at SROs, the mayor's office said. The program is scheduled to begin later this year.

The program is based on the Tenant Overdose Response Organizers program in Vancouver, Canada.

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