San Francisco has not one but 11 homeless outreach teams to provide services for people living on the streets, and a new city audit finds they don’t communicate with one another and often have poor oversight of their contracts and responsibilities.
You may have heard of San Francisco having a “homeless outreach team,” sometimes referred to by their acronym of a “HOT team,” with their recognizable branded black jackets or green shirts. But it turns out San Francisco actually has 11 homeless outreach teams, with names like Post Overdose Engagement Team (POET) or Street Crisis Response Team (SCRT).
And according to a new 136-page audit from the SF the Budget and Legislative Analyst, there is little coordination between the 11 teams, these teams use a range of incompatible data collection systems, and their contract oversight is lacking. That’s why, according to Mission Local, Supervisor Dean Preston is calling for hearings on homeless outreach team oversight to address these flaws.
Preston did not sound angry with the teams’ performances when he called for the hearings at Tuesday’s SF Board of Supervisors meeting. “There no doubt that these teams have saved countless lives, connected people to services they desperately needed, and help deescalate situations that could have otherwise become tragic,” Preston said Tuesday. “I am grateful to all of these workers and departments that are undertaking this difficult and essential work.”
“But there’s no sugarcoating it, the audit found some areas that will require serious improvement,” he added. “The Department of Public Health failed to adequately monitor its contracts, and one street team operated without a contract for over a year.”
According to the SF Standard, that street team is the Harm Reduction Therapy Center. They apparently do have a contract with the DPH now. The DPH says it “was actively working” with them to devise a new contract during the period when it was lapsed.
In fairness, the city did rapidly expand these street teams at the start of the pandemic. But the reach of the audit dates back to 2018.
These calls for City Hall hearings do often result in legislation. The hearing will probably be at some Board of Supervisors committee hearing, though it has not yet been scheduled.
Image: Joe Kukura, SFist