Unhoused community, nonprofit share concern over SF mayor's drug treatment proposal

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Thursday, September 28, 2023
Unhoused community's concern on SF mayor's drug treatment proposal
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A new drug treatment proposal for drug addicts to receive cash assistance in San Francisco is getting push back by some unhoused community members.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A new plan in San Francisco to help drug addicts is getting push back.

The proposal by Mayor London Breed would require screening and treatment for drug use before people can get cash assistance.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors have to approve the plan before it can take effect.

RELATED: Drug users must enter treatment to get SF County cash assistance, Mayor Breed proposes

Drug users must enter treatment before they can get San Francisco County cash assistance, according to a proposed rule announced by Mayor Breed.

Markael Eugene Raybon calls San Francisco's Mission District home - at least for now.

"I live on the streets and still worry about street life every day," he said.

He says Mayor London Breed's announcement on Tuesday is adding to his concern.

"No more...anything goes without accountability. No more handouts without accountability," Raybon said.

MORE: SF to ramp up clearing unhoused encampments after court clarification, officials say

Right now more than 5,000 unhoused or formerly unhoused people in San Francisco are getting nearly $700 a month in welfare.

And the mayor wants to make it so people have to pass a drug test in order to get a check.

"So in order to get resources from our city, you will need to be in a substance use disorder program and consistently seeking treatment," Mayor Breed said on Tuesday.

"I think that everyone is concerned about the number of overdose deaths, and everyone is trying really hard to find solutions This is not a good one," said Lydia Bransten, Executive Director with The Gubbio Project, a nonprofit providing everything from medical services to a place to sleep.

"Stability reduces drug use. Instability increases drug use. Taking away people's vital money that they use to purchase the things that they need to survive will increase instability," she said.

She says they provide a lot of those necessities, but is worried they won't be able to keep up.

"Any time you take away someone's resources, it's not that their need goes away. It's just the resources for those things have gone away," Bransten said.

MORE: SF unhoused community nonprofit in Mission District at risk of closing

A San Francisco nonprofit focused on helping people on the streets of the Mission District is now in need of help of its own.

"Without having programs like this, we could lose a lot of people, people will go back to jail, recidivism rates... it just trickles down you know," Raybon said.

But the city points to its recent survey, showing more than half of unhoused people self-disclosed having a substance use disorder.

"Some may test clean, some may test dirty. For myself, I can't give you an answer because I go days and I don't. I goes days, and I don't- honestly," said Denise, who is unhoused.

Raybon said, "I hope that people wouldn't be put in a place that they don't get to have the benefits. They need to survive and would put them in a worse situation condition."

If you or someone you know is struggling with drug addiction or other issues, here is a list of local resources.

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