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Expanded Sobering Center is 1st boost from big gift for homeless - SF Chronicle
Date:  5/9/2017
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Written by: Kevin Fagan and Rachel Swan
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Daniel Lurie walks through the Tenderloin in this 2011 file photo. Photo: Russell Yip, The Chronicle
Photo: Russell Yip, The Chronicle

Mayor Ed Lee, his top homelessness advisers and Tipping Point Community founder Daniel Lurie got a peek Monday at the city’s newly beefed-up medical respite center for acutely ill homeless people, but it was no typical rollout. They mostly kept their game faces on, but underneath they all were practically giddy knowing this was just the beginning of what is expected to be a $100 million tsunami of charity-funded improvements to San Francisco’s homeless programs over the next five years.

The Medical Respite and Sobering Center on Mission Street has been a key tool in helping sick homeless people since it opened in 2009, and not just because it manages to permanently house 30 percent of the people who land in its beds. It saves big money. One bed in the center, which comes fully staffed with a doctor and nurses, costs $350 a day — as opposed to $1,200 a day for a regular hospital spot.

Tipping Point gave the city’s Public Health Department $612,000 for construction to add 34 beds to the center, bringing the total to 79. Patients will start filling those spaces over the next couple of weeks. But the big story beneath Monday’s little walk-through was the rest of the money Tipping Point is promising to hand over to the city and some of its nonprofits: $100 million over the next five years for supportive housing, mental health and a galaxy of other issues core to solving chronic homelessness.

The goal, Lurie, the mayor and his managers said, is to cut the hardest-core street population in half by 2022. Expanding the respite center was the first visible part of that effort.

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