To help with the homeless using the San Francisco Public Library’s main branch in the Civic Center, library staff asked for help from the Department of Public Health.
Health Director Mitch Katz recently reported that the effort is having success. The department has stationed a psychiatric social worker at the Main Branch who refers library patrons to city services and helps deal with patrons in a learned way.
“This partnership has resulted in a marked decrease in behavioral incidents at the Main Branch,” Katz reported. “Surveyed library staff members report that the Main Branch has become a better workplace. So far, over 50 patrons have been engaged into case management services, 15 have been housed, and one was assisted into community employment.”
The main branch has long been a popular place for homeless to hang out at both inside and outside on the grounds.
As Katz notes: “As public spaces, libraries serve as warm, safe and educational places for homeless/mentally ill individuals to spend time, catch up on the news, and get away from the despair of life on the streets for a few hours.”