In March, San Francisco mayor, London Breed, hired Anton Nigusse Bland, an African-American medical doctor and former director of psychiatric emergency services at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, to help solve the city’s problem of high numbers of homeless people suffering from drug addiction and mental illness.
Under SB 1045, a California act that was signed into law in 2018, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego we’re approved to use conservatorship, described by the publication California Healthline as “a controversial practice that allows the city to take people with mental illness or substance abuse issues off the streets without their consent and put them into treatment.”
“We have to be very thoughtful in the balance between autonomy and restoring a person’s dignity and health,” said Bland. “It’s inhumane to allow someone to suffer on the streets with serious mental illness and substance abuse when there are alternatives available to them. In many of those cases, those individuals who are so severely affected may not even understand what’s happening to them at that moment. They’re struggling.”
The city’s program includes a 24-hour service center and an outreach team.