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Spotlights

Learning to Improve our Behavioral Health System—May 2019

Homelessness has devastating impacts on health: studies estimate that it reduces life expectancy by 15-20 years. While we know the primary cause of homelessness is a lack of affordable housing, behavioral health conditions like mental illness and substance use disorders also contribute to homelessness and are greatly exacerbated by a lack of housing. Stable housing and appropriate treatment are necessities for the health of our neighbors experiencing homelessness.

The San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH) are part of a complex system of care that provides behavioral health services everywhere from hospitals to street corners. People experiencing chronic homelessness are among their highest-need and most frequent clients, but without stable housing, clients tend to cycle in and out of shelter and treatment. As part of our effort to prevent homelessness, Tipping Point is working with the UCSF Department of Psychiatry and public health consultancy John Snow, Inc. (JSI) to research the existing system, identify gaps in services, and recommend opportunities for improvement. Tipping Point’s role will be to identify areas for philanthropy to enhance the City’s behavioral health infrastructure for people experiencing homelessness.

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