The SF Department of Public Health (SFDPH) announced today 204 public health staff have been hired to support people who are experiencing homelessness or are marginally housed and have mental health or substance use disorders.
SFDPH and the Department of Human Resources (DHR) rapidly filled positions and met the goal of hiring and onboarding 200 new employees by the end of March through the 90-day Emergency Declaration in the Tenderloin. Mayor London N. Breed made the emergency declaration in December to address SF’s overdose crisis that is concentrated in the Tenderloin neighborhood.
The newly hired public health staff will play critical roles in SF’s response to save lives and support people with complex behavioral health needs by providing access to care, treatment, and connections to other needed services.
Under the emergency powers, SFDPH and DHR streamlined SF’s hiring process while adhering to competitive, fair, and equity-based selection processes. SFDPH is working to build upon this hiring success and will continue to eliminate redundancies and combine onboarding activities wherever possible.
“We are thrilled to welcome in so many new people and see such energy and enthusiasm to better the health and wellbeing of San Franciscans,” said Dr. Hillary Kunins, Director of Behavioral Health Services. “We have staffed up to a level that can begin to address the scale of need we see in our communities around mental health and substance use. SF has focused many resources toward addressing these critical needs, and now we have new staff members to join us in making it happen.”
The new staff include behavioral health clinicians, pharmacists, health workers, and others who will build out effective programs and services that can reach people where they are. A number of these new hires will join the team at the Tenderloin Linkage Center, where people can go to be safe, get basic “dignity” needs met like showers and laundry, and be connected to care and services when they are ready. Other new hires will support the launch and long-term staffing of the Office of Coordinated Care to manage care and improve outcomes for individuals who may otherwise have difficulty maintaining access to services.
Under the Mental Health SF legislation and funding streams, SF is expanding access to mental health services, substance use treatment, and psychiatric medications to all adult San Franciscans in need who are experiencing homelessness, uninsured, or enrolled in Medi-Cal or Healthy San Francisco.