SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced a new pilot program on Tuesday to address the city’s homelessness issues. The program will serve as an alternate to law enforcement responses for non-emergency calls involving people experiencing homelessness, according to a release from the mayor’s office. The program, which has been named the Homeless Engagement Assistance Response Team (HEART), will involve a community-based team made up of Urban Alchemy practitioners.

The new program will operate under the direction of the City’s Department of Emergency Management. “HEART will provide rapid, compassionate, and structured responses to targeted, non-medical, non-emergency 911 and 311 calls involving people who are experiencing homelessness,” the mayor’s office said.

The program is intended as a pivot away from the city’s historic approach of having the San Francisco Police Department respond to all such calls. HEART will not replace SFPD for all calls involving homeless individuals, but will replace law enforcement for certain types of 911 calls.

The team is part of an effort to broaden the city’s comprehensive street response effort.

“The new HEART team is part of our work to further build out our street response effort to help those struggling on our streets,” said Mayor London Breed. “Addressing homelessness isn’t just about adding new shelter or housing – it’s also about meeting people where they are to get them connected to those resources. This is hard work, but it’s how we will make a difference in people’s lives and in our neighborhoods.”

Members of the HEART team will be required to complete specialized training prior to deployment that will include:

  • Trauma informed and Strength Based Care
  • Cultural and Gender Awareness
  • De-escalation
  • Harm Reduction
  • Self-Care and Wellness Safety
  • CPR and First Aid
  • Naloxone Training
  • Needs & Engagement Assessment
  • Services Linkages

Monthly data reports that aggregate call volume, types, completed needs assessments, call dispositions/outcomes, response times and requests for assistance from public safety will be produced as part of the pilot program.