Board reverses mayor's mental health cuts

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San Francisco’s $6.5 billion budget, which the Board of Supervisors approved late Tuesday nigth, included a complete restoration of outpatient mental health services funded through the city’s Department of Public Health. The board is expected to finalize the same budget after a second reading scheduled for July 27.

The board reversed a more than $4.1 million cut to community behavioral health services proposed by Mayor Gavin Newsom in early June, which would have affected a dozen agencies and approximately 1,000 patients. As the Guardian reported on June 8, Newsom’s massive cut to the DPH would have resulted in a much greater loss to community nonprofits that leverage federal dollars from city funding to treat San Francisco’s most severely mentally ill homeless and poor.

Sup. Bevan Dufty told the Guardian he was very impressed by Citywide Case Management and Community Focus after walking rounds with one of the nonprofit’s caseworkers. Citywide is one of the San Francisco’s best performing mental health nonprofits, according to DPH reviews, and it would also have been the hardest hit under Newsom’s plan.

“It's clear to me that this is a program that we ought to be doubling rather than cutting,” Dufty told us. “The more that people saw what they were doing, the more people would get behind what they were doing. Other cities are building models based on what Citywide Case management is doing now.”

Citywide Director Dr. David Fariello wrote the Guardian this letter about restoration of funding to his program to the Guardian: “We have good news for the supporters of Citywide Case Management and Community Focus mental health services. As you remember we were facing the prospect of 38 percent budget lose and cutting services to 240 of the severely mentally ill clients that we treat. On July 20, the Board of Supervisors voted for a full restoration of outpatient mental health services. This means that we will not need to cut services to the clients we serve.
“Your article, as well as phone calls, emails, and letters from supporters made clear to the Mayor's Office and to the Board of Supervisors how critical our services are. Citywide/Community Focus supporters generated more input than any other budget cut issue. The Mayor restored 40 percent of our cuts, even after submitting his budget to the Board of Supervisors. Ours was the only cut to be so restored. The Board restored the remainder along with other outpatient mental health programs.
“Thank you for your support. In return, we are rededicating ourselves to providing comprehensive, cutting-edge, quality treatment to those San Franciscans at highest risk because of their mental illness.”

Comments

Does anyone see the irony in cutting mental health while pushing for forced medication (so-called Laura's Law)?

This typifies the conservative approach. Cut cut cut, and then crack down on the social ills that result with punitive measures.

I would hope that we could do better in San Francisco. Doesn't it make more sense to fully fund social services? Then maybe we wouldn't have as much of a perceived need for the crackdowns.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 23, 2010 @ 8:12 am

Greg,

Yes, an argument can easily made that we should "fully" fund mental heath and, while we're at it, elder care, child care, homeless services, free medical services, public transit, public safety, parks, leisure and a host of others.

That's not the real issue here.

The real issue is that we can't afford it. So the most interesting question is not whether you pet project is more important than my pet project. But rather, should the city adopt a prioritized approach to cuts, eliminating some services while trying to "fully" preserve others? Or should we just cut all services equally and by whatever percent it takes to balance the books?

To anyone here who says that we must preserve X, I'd ask just one simple question. What other service would you like to decimate to make that happen?

Posted by Folly on Jul. 23, 2010 @ 11:48 am

Or we can try to raise more revenue, particularly from the big banks, insurance corporations, and financial services companies that pay no business taxes to the city. Simply making deep cuts year after year isn't the answer.

Posted by steven on Jul. 23, 2010 @ 3:57 pm

We're in the biggest recession since the 1930's and your idea is to take more money out of peoples' pockets while their take-home pay is declining?

That's it?

Leaving aside the ideological objections and you still have the problem that voters need to approve tax hikes, sometimes by a 2/3 majority. And the general perception of voters is that public sector workers are overpaid, have unaffordably generous benefits and way too much job security.

And you want me to pay more tax so that doesn't change?

Indulging the beast by gorging it has never worked.

Posted by Folly on Jul. 24, 2010 @ 5:59 am

When they talk about the most needful clients, what they're really also saying is that if they don't get services, they're the most impactful clients; the ones who not only can't take care of themselves, but who pose ongoing issues for where they stay, the people they interact with. Which means, by getting this funding to make sure we have case managers for them and a whole lot of other people, we're making sure they're not part of the revolving door of hospital visits, police calls & impacted residents. This money, is a *savings* for money we're not having to spend if we just let them be without access to professionals.

Also, this is the program in essence, that Ronald Reagan proposed when he sent closed all the mental health housing in Napa and bussed the residents into S.F., the original idea was that all those people would get outpatient services, so it wouldn't be just dump & run.
We're also facing off against an upswing in returning veterans from both wars... I'm sorry, but if you're going to have a conservative agenda which includes putting people in harm's way, then you have to have support the underpinning support those people will need.

The good news, is by having services like this, for example the trauma care center at SFGH, then the District Attorney's office has support for their staff, who have to process all the victims, whether or not they can take each case, they still have to go through it with victims, so we can have attorney's who can be supported through their years of service, so we have experienced attorney's who can handle the worst of the cases, over and over again, and justice can be served... as well as the victims, getting supportive services.

It's not that we can't afford these services, there are other issues like corruption, graft, which cost us more than the public health portion of the budget, it's that it's hard get rid of graft, it's easy to cut a fledgling social service, no matter how needed.

Posted by Josh on Jul. 24, 2010 @ 12:48 pm

I'm tired of hearing how we can't afford basic human services, when we have all the money in the world for cops and jails, corporate welfare, and the war machine.

Why does that crap always get funded, and then the really basic stuff, stuff that helps people in need, gets derided as some sort of "pet project?"

That shiny new police command center they're building is a luxury. Mental health services are necessities.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 23, 2010 @ 2:42 pm

Rather than choosing between cutting projects X or Y, how about a look at more revenue sources, specifically a more progressive payroll tax as proposed by Chiu? There must be other ways to raise revenue other than regressive taxes and fees that hit everybody. Why not tax those who can afford it the most?

And don't say it's "politically/fiscally unrealistic." That's just a euphemism for the "wealthy and powerful don't feel like it."

One can just as easily say that tax breaks for corporations -- not funding for public services and benefits for employees -- are to blame for cuts in X, Y, and Z.

Posted by Guest LD on Jul. 23, 2010 @ 3:01 pm

Santa Clara County's budget for 2011 is $2,079,015,503. San Jose's 2010-11 budget is $2,451,146,293 and that includes the airport. Santa Clara City's 2010-11 budget is $546,700,000. Mountain View’s 2010-11 budget is $258,400,000. The City of Palo Alto is only $137,093,000. Campbell and the others are all less than that.

So, Santa Clara County and all its enclosed cities budgets total about $5.5 billion, compared to $6.5 billion for SF alone.

And MOST IMPORTANTLY, there are 1,900,000 people over 194 square miles in Santa Clara County and only 800,000 people over 49 square miles in San Francisco.

Santa Clara does more than twice as much on $1 billion less than San Francisco.

It's time the supervisors made responsible decisions versus boasting about their successes. We have more city employees per capita than any city in the state. We need to cut jobs - we have to cut jobs. One time concessions are meaningless - the problem is still there next year.

Amazing.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 24, 2010 @ 12:16 am

It's always the same, tax the working class.

The people with money are in power along with their friends in the country club society and they are not about to tax themselves and share their wealth to make this city (this also applies to other government entities) a better example for other cities to follow.

Taking care of the citizens of this city should be number. And that includes giving our children a better education so they will care about us as we get older, because they will be in charge soon enough. Otherwise, the selfishness will continue to be breed.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 24, 2010 @ 1:30 pm

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