A Yes on C campaign sign is displayed in a window along Mission Street near the U.S. Court of Appeals on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018. (DavÌd RodrÌguez/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Treatment, recovery is possible with Prop. C

When I was in treatment for heroin addiction, I never would have guessed that 33 years later, I would be the CEO of the organization that saved my life.

Homeless and hopeless, I went to a publicly funded program in the Haight-Ashbury called Walden House – now called HealthRIGHT 360. I spent over a year in treatment and when I was well enough, I transitioned to a recovery residence and accessed outpatient treatment. After two years, I rented an apartment with a friend.

My journey was possible because treatment was funded to last until I got better. Over the years, funding for addiction has slowly constricted and today maxes out at 90 days. Clinically, 90 days of residential treatment may be sufficient to begin healing, after which a person can safely return home and continue with outpatient services. This is not an option for people who have no home. The treatment that an individual received to stop using drugs, can be undone instantly.

Proposition C, on the ballot this November, can help by opening up a supply of transitional recovery housing for people who no longer require the intensity of residential treatment but absolutely need a safe place to stay. Free from drugs and alcohol and with on-site peer coaches, transitional recovery housing allows people to participate in outpatient care, maintain a job, and save money to ultimately live independently.

Last year 1,463 San Franciscans came to HealthRIGHT 360 for residential treatment; 94% of the time our clients lived outside before coming in. We welcomed them, washed their clothes, connected them with primary care, and helped them heal. With market-rate housing out of reach and subsidized housing waitlists years long, more than a third of the time we were forced to discharge our clients back into homelessness. Three decades ago, no one was discharged to the street. Not so today.

Since February, San Francisco’s Department of Public Health has been piloting a program at HealthRIGHT 360 that leverages federal dollars to create a treatment continuum with residential and outpatient services paired with transitional recovery housing. This model is working; people are getting healthier at a dramatically reduced cost to the city, but with only 88 transitional recovery housing beds, we can only impact a fraction of the 1,500 people who seek treatment with us annually.

The key to scaling successful projects like this is to fund their development. With Proposition C, San Franciscans get to decide if they want a meaningful investment in services to impact the city’s homelessness crisis in a meaningful way. I urge all San Franciscans to support Prop C.
^

Vitka Eisen is the CEO of the nonprofit HealthRIGHT 360.

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

SF police issue first citation for violating stay at home order to abortion protester

Ronald Konopaski, 86, cited outside Planned Parenthood for allegedly failing to shelter in place

Pier 39 aquarium staff furloughed — but what about the fish?

Aquarium of the Bay raising funds from public to keep up operations during shutdown

Help the San Francisco Examiner, SF Weekly continue our mission of providing free, local news

This week, I was faced with the heartbreaking task of reducing the hours — and therefore the pay — of the very journalists who report, write, edit and photograph that news.

San Francisco police begin issuing citations for failing to shelter in place

Officers to cite businesses, people who fail to heed warnings

Ride-hail drivers left idling by coronavirus shutdown looking for a lift

Bay Area ride-hail drivers are among those who have been hit hardest… Continue reading

Most Read