[Hpn] Fwd: Consumers Survive...
Coalition on Homelessness, SF
Thu, 27 Jul 2000 23:20:31 -0700
>Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 18:42:34 -0700
>From: "Coalition on Homelessness, SF" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>Subject: Consumers Survive...
>email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,
>firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org,
>Consumers Survive Devastating Cuts to Community Mental Health
>The Coalition's Substance (Ab)use/Mental Health Work Group (SAMH)
>entered this year with a plan to organize mental health consumers
>and survivors to rebuild and reshape our mental health treatment
>system for the second straight year. Admittedly, we knew our efforts
>were ambitious - we had no choice but to fight against the many
>systemic injustices affecting some of the most disenfranchised and
>oppressed people seeking our City-funded mental health services.
>Services that are accessible in the community have eroded for over
>three decades, resulting in thousands of people with mental
>illnesses being denied voluntary services and living on the streets.
>In fact, just last year the City of San Francisco admitted in public
>documents that only about one-half of those qualified for and
>seeking publicly-funded treatment could actually manage to access
>All our work on the mental health system is directly based on
>feedback we get from homeless people with mental health issues.
>These folks have been asking for housing, treatment, one-on-one
>counseling, access to SSI benefits advocacy, 24-hour services and a
>whole host of changes that we must institute in San Francisco before
>we can truly begin meeting these people's needs. Consumers and
>survivors direct our agenda, and if they have the time they are
>engaged on a daily basis in our struggle for change.
>This campaign started two years ago, and it took almost that long
>just to get our first objective met, which was to fund outpatient
>treatment. This included creating new models representing a
>departure from traditional clinical models to better serve those
>mental health consumers who have historically been denied access to
>treatment. However, as this years budget process progressed, it
>became clear that we would not only be fighting for expanded
>treatment, but also fighting against yet another round of senseless
>and dangerous cuts to Community Mental Health Services - cuts which
>threatened to set our modest efforts back several years.
>During the budget process, the Dept. of Public Health repeatedly
>declared that their "plan" was to move people from hospital-based
>care to community-level care. But that same Department also proposed
>cutting Community Mental Health Services by $4.7 million, including
>the elimination of 330 community-based outpatient mental health
>treatment slots, and an additional $600,000 taken from outpatient
>treatment for uninsured individuals. This would have been equivalent
>to closing one whole mental health clinic in San Francisco and would
>have disproportionately affected non-English speaking communities.
>Consumers, survivors and their allies, through the Coalition on
>Homelessness, fought against these irresponsible cuts at every level
>of decision making, from the Dept. of Public Health all the way to
>the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors. We held a colorful and
>creative direct action in front of City Hall, showed up in large
>numbers at public hearings, and met with the Health Department, the
>Mayor's office and almost every Supervisor. We sent hundreds of
>postcards, made countless calls, worked to get stories in the media
>- and we didn't let up for a moment.
>The Dept. of Public Health and the Mayor ignored our concerns in
>their proposed budgets, but the lost funds were finally re-instated
>by the Board of Supervisors. Some additional funds from a legal
>settlement were found at the last minute, and Supervisor Sue Bierman
>negotiated with the Mayor's office to earmark these funds for mental
>health treatment. Over $1,000,000 was added back into the budget,
>and in addition, Supervisor Michael Yaki pushed to support funding
>for one of the six initiatives we were struggling to have added to
>the budget. This was $100,000 for peer-based treatment -
>successfully added back into the budget with help from Board
>President Tom Ammianno.
>Budget constraints have meant that Community Mental Health Services
>has been ordered to freeze salaries since September, 1999 -
>resulting in 64 positions remaining unfilled. 71% of these positions
>are clinical, and have resulted in diminished capacity to deliver
>the least expensive level of service. These vacant positions have
>led to all major mental health clinics being closed to new intakes,
>elimination of services for non-English speakers, and an inability
>to respond to medication needs in a timely manner. The Department is
>supposed to start filling these positions this month, but only time
>will tell if another hiring freeze doesn't get implemented first.
>With all the recent advances in psychiatric treatment, and in this
>booming economy, it is simply unacceptable that anyone should
>suffer, become homeless or die due to the effects of a treatable
>condition simply because they are poor. These cuts were not
>tolerated - nor should they have been. We have a long road ahead of
>us to secure fair and just funding for mental health, institute many
>badly needed changes to the mental health system, and ensure that
>people with mental health issues have a voice that is heard.
>We will not be silenced, nor will we go away.
>The Substance (Ab)use/ Mental Health Work Group of the Coalition on
>Homelessness meets on the third Wednesday of every month at 5:00 at
>995 Market, Suite 1018. For more information or to get on our
>mailing list, please call Jennifer Friedenbach at (415) 346-3740.
>The Coalition on Homelessness brings together homeless people and
>front line service providers to create permanent solutions to
>homelessness, including housing, treatment, employment and
>childcare, while working to protect the human and civil rights of
>homeless people forced to remain on the streets.
Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco
468 Turk St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
vox: (415) 346.3740
Fax: (415) 775.5639