San Francisco supervisors supporting ballot initiative to provide psychiatric care

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Anyone who's walked the streets of San Francisco knows the city has had a huge mental health problem.

Now, a group of supervisors is supporting a ballot initiative to fund a program that would provide psychiatric care to any San Franciscan who needs it.

While out on this story our crew encountered what some say is a typical occurrence in San Francisco. A woman-- passed out in the middle of the sidewalk as people bump into her.

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Concerned that she might get hurt, our crew approached her and asked if she was ok.

She was confused as who we were or our intentions. Our crew told her that they work for channel 7 and not the city, but she was in no shape to speak.

"One of the things that you just noticed is that right now people just walk by, right, and that's not ok," said Kathy Curran with the Healing Well, a support group in the Tenderloin District.

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Curran says San Francisco has no way to track and coordinate the availability of beds and services for those with mental health issues and substance abuse problems.

"There are not enough resources and so people can stay for just a very short time and then they are right back out the door," explained Curran.

Several San Francisco lawmakers now have a plan and voters will decide in November whether or not to adopt the program called Mental Health SF.

"The Mental Health SF Service Center will provide access to a psychologist or a psychiatric nurse, medication and case management services on site. It will also have a mobile outreach team to bring people in who are suffering on our street," San Francisco Hillary Ronen told a large group of homeless and community activists on the steps of City Hall.

Here's how it will get funded. Half of it will come from reimbursements by the state, the rest from the general fund and from a new tax called the Excessive CEO Salary Tax.

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For example, if a median salary at a company is $75,000 and its CEO makes 100 times that amount or $7.5 million, the City will add a 0.1 percent surcharge to the company's total gross revenue. The higher the disparity the more the company has to pay.

"We want to ask a little bit more from some of these companies and use that money to be able to build a mental health system that actually works," said Matt Haney, one of the lawmakers that will put that measure on the November Ballot.

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