For a homeless or marginally housed person experiencing a psychiatric episode or struggling with substance abuse, there is now an intermediate place of care between the street and a hospital’s psychiatric emergency center.
Hummingbird Place, a new shelter inside San Francisco General Hospital, offers counseling, hot meals, showers and overnight accommodations for people needing to regroup after a crisis.
The center currently has four beds, but 11 more are expected by the end of the year. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the shelter’s operators expect the average stay to be about two weeks.
Hummingbird Place follows the city’s Navigation Center model. The Mission currently has two such low-barrier-to-entry centers, one on 16th Street and another on 26th Street. Clients referred to these centers may bring their pets, partners and belongings. The new center will offer access to intensive case management, and will be connected to other resources like healthcare, entitlement benefits and drug-treatment programs.
Positive Resource Center, also called Baker Places — a nonprofit with a history of working with patients with both mental health and substance use diagnoses — will manage the new center.
“As one of the only respite centers of its kind in the nation, Hummingbird Place is designed to help people who are not sick enough for the hospital, but they’re too ill to live on the streets or stay in a homeless shelter,” Positive Resource Center CEO Brett Andrews said in a statement.
The center will not offer safe consumption — that is, supervised drug or alcohol use. The idea of incorporating safe-consumption services into the city’s harm-reduction programs has been met with theoretical support from the Department of Public Health in the past. State law, however, prohibits the practice.
On Thursday, the day after the opening, former San Francisco District 8 supervisor and current state Senator Scott Wiener called for support of legislation heading to a Senate vote that would allow safe-consumption sites.
“Having a safe space where people can inject will mean less drug use in public spaces, fewer needles on our streets and sidewalks, and better opportunities to get people into treatment,” Wiener said in a statement.
A bill that would would allow local governments to test such sites is on the Senate’s Thursday agenda.