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    Hummingbird Place Takes Flight

    By Brett Andrews

    (Editor’s Note: This issue of the San Francisco Bay Times dedicated to local non-profits marks the debut of a new monthly column by Brett Andrews. One of our most accomplished and caring community leaders, he is the Chief Executive Director at Positive Resource Center (PRC), an organization that provides comprehensive benefits counseling, health and employment services to those affected by HIV/AIDS, substance use or mental health issues. PRC helps people to realize their potential by offering integrated legal, social and health-related services, all of which address the broad range of social risk factors that impact wellness and limit potential.

    Before joining PRC, Andrews served as the Executive Director of Los Angeles Team Mentoring, Inc. (LATM), a nonprofit agency that matched deserving middle school youth to quality mentors. Prior to his work with LATM, he served as the Executive Director of Kids n’ U, Inc., a New York City-based nonprofit youth-serving organization sponsored by Michael Kors. 

    Andrews holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Pennsylvania State University and a Master of Arts in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from George Washington University. Currently, he is a member of the San Francisco HIV/AIDS Provider Network, the San Francisco Human Services Network and the Mayor’s CBO Taskforce. He serves on the Board of the National Working Positive Coalition.

    Andrews additionally is a former San Francisco Ethics Commissioner and a former Rockwood Leadership Institute Fellow. He has received numerous awards and honors over the years, including, most recently, the 2016 Association of Fundraising Professionals Spirit of Philanthropy Award and the 2017 Imperial Court of San Francisco Bob Cramer Humanitarian Award. Please join us in welcoming Andrews to the Bay Times team!)

    As Chief Executive Officer at PRC for the past 14 years, I have watched our clients and community struggle with the increasingly high cost of housing, barriers to accessing quality healthcare, and a growing epidemic of injection drug use both in San Francisco and across the country. Additionally, the stigma that comes from having HIV/AIDS, mental health or substance use issues often results in long-lasting trauma that is difficult, if not impossible, to overcome on one’s own. That is why I am so proud of PRC’s most recent collaboration with the City to manage the area’s newest Homeless Navigation Center onsite at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.  

    Called Hummingbird Place, it is a safe, welcoming, and homelike environment for people who are homeless or marginally housed, experiencing a psychiatric episode or struggling with substance abuse. Designed as an alternative to returning to the streets after exiting the hospital’s psychiatric emergency center or other various homeless services, the program will offer 15 overnight beds and a similar number of drop-in daytime slots for individuals.

    At Hummingbird, we meet people where they are, allowing for the storage of personal belongings, for couples to stay together, and for companion animals to remain with their owners, if feasible. The homelike environment includes a large garden area, as well as recreational space. Healthy and wholesome meals are, of course, standard.

    Staffed by PRC’s experienced behavioral health specialists from our Baker Places residential treatment center, all guests will have access to intensive case management and linkages to other resources like healthcare, entitlement benefits, and drug-treatment programs. All guests will receive continuing follow-up to make sure they had the right referrals.

    The benefits to such a program are many, both to the guests and to the community as a whole. A stay at Hummingbird provides a safe, comfortable environment where people are given the time to be able to make more informed and better choices for themselves. It will also lessen the burden on our acute and most expensive services by bringing in folks who are too unwell and too sick to be on the street, but who aren’t necessarily in need of that high level of other services provided the City.

    The entire program is voluntary, and even though some guests may choose to stay at Hummingbird for a short time, we believe we can still have a significant impact. Success will be evaluated by various measures, including for some, simply providing a safe alternative to another night on the streets. Ultimately, however, it is our goal to assistant all individuals in accessing safe and stable housing. 

    I am very proud of this new initiative, as all San Franciscans should be: Hummingbird Place is funded entirely by the City and County of San Francisco. The pioneering program is one of the first of its kind in the nation. According to Jeff Kositsky, Director of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, “It is yet another example of San Francisco’s ongoing commitment to addressing the complex issue of homelessness.”

    Ultimately, I believe that everyone—regardless of their situation—has value and potential. At PRC, we are committed to helping individuals overcome substance and mental health issues, secure income and healthcare benefits, stabilize their housing, develop the skills to find and keep a job, and, most importantly, to give them hope and a path to new opportunities. When people have the ability to realize their potential, to lead stronger and more productive lives, they add to—not take away from—the community.

    For more information:

    Hummingbird Place http://sfmayor.org/article/san-francisco-expands-services-residents-dealing-homelessness-substance-use-and-mental

    Positive Resource Center www.positiveresource.org