Aurelia Ramirez walks by tents and debris along Folsom Street.

Overdose Deaths Swell Among SF’s Mayan Residents, Highlighting Urgent Need for Culturally Competent Drug Health Services

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, San Francisco’s Mayans have been dying of drug overdoses at elevated rates. More robust health services are needed, experts say, and providers should be culturally competent and able to communicate effectively with these residents, who may not be fluent in English or Spanish.

A man knocks on the door of a makeshift shelter covered in blue tarps.

Booted From the Army, He Spiraled. Now He Works to Solve the Veteran Homelessness Crisis.

Homeless veterans make up only a small fraction of America’s homeless population, and they have been a priority in efforts to house the homeless. Since 2019, Congress has committed billions of dollars in resources to end veteran homelessness, and the number of unhoused veterans, who make up 8% of the homeless nationwide, has been cut almost in half since then, though last year saw a 7.4% uptick in numbers.

But the proportion of homeless veterans living outdoors has increased. California, in particular, has more homeless veterans lingering on the street than any other state. More than 7,400 veterans live outside. Add in another 3,100 other veterans who live in shelters or temporary housing, and that’s 10,500, or almost one-third of all homeless veterans in the country.

A severe shortage of affordable housing and the tremendous cost of living in California are partly to blame. But it’s estimated that more than half of homeless veterans suffer from a mental illness, and 70% are affected by substance use disorder; often the two groups overlap. For those veterans, if outreach, supportive housing, and a veteran’s readiness for change don’t align, homelessness often remains the default.

Silhouettes of two people crossing the desert.

California Program Trains Undocumented Residents to Become Therapists and Serve Those in the Shadows

The future is uncertain for California Proposition 1, which looks like it might pass by a razor-thin margin and would expand the state’s mental health and substance abuse treatment infrastructure. As votes are still being tallied, we bring you this story from news outlet MindSite News about a San Francisco organization that is filling a glaring void in the health care system.

A poster with a blue background and white and yellow graphics and lettering placed near a sidewalk urges people to "Stay 6 feet apart."

Reporter’s Notebook: The Epidemic She Didn’t Expect to See

Mel Baker shares an excerpt of an interview with Dr. Monica Gandhi in which they discuss the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gandhi is a professor of medicine and associate division chief of HIV, infectious diseases, and global medicine at UCSF and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and author of “Endemic: A Post Pandemic Playbook.”

Proveedores de Servicios Exigen Acceso a Reclusos Latinos

La falta de programación en español es un problema crecientemente grave ya que el encarcelamiento de latinos ha aumentado desde el lanzamiento el junio pasado de una ofensiva policial contra las drogas en los vecindarios de Tenderloin y sur de Market. • Read in English:

Voting booths at San Francisco City Hall

Despite Controversy, Candidates’ Chinese Names Unlikely to Sway S.F. Voters

For months leading up to Tuesday’s primary election in San Francisco, debate has swirled around new rules allowing many, but not all, candidates to use authentic-looking Chinese names on the ballot. In the past, candidates have chosen names to communicate concepts, including political values and ethnic identity, to appeal to Chinese voters.

But how much will the names actually affect voters’ decisions?

Probably not much, some experts say.

“Just having a Chinese name on the ballot, that’s not going to do it for you,” said Jim Ross, a San Francisco-based political strategist and consultant who leads focus groups studying local Chinese voters. “You’re not going to win or lose because of that.”

Election Money Pours in for San Francisco Judges’ Seats That Used to Go Uncontested

In California, the governor appoints superior court judges to fill seats across 58 counties. Terms are typically six years, and judges keep their positions unless they’re recalled, which happens rarely, or someone decides to run against them in a local election. Usually, judges don’t face challengers.

But a pair of San Francisco judges are running to stay on the bench in the upcoming March 5 election. The last time sitting judges faced such challenges here was in the June 2018 primary election, and the challengers lost.

Voters might be wondering why they’re being asked to make this decision.