At a City Hall meeting in San Francisco, an interpreter helps a resident make a public comment.

As Bay Area Cities Adopt Real-Time AI Translation for Public Meetings, SF Abstains

Cities in Northern California are increasingly adopting artificial intelligence-powered translation tools in an effort to make public meetings more accessible to residents who are not proficient in English. The technology could address obstacles to access in San Francisco, where people can struggle to obtain city-provided interpreters.

Should San Francisco consider following San Jose, Modesto and others in adopting AI translation? City officials say no, and some community groups are wary but open to the possibility.

An interpreter speaks Cantonese into a device that transmits to listeners, with headsets, during a public meeting held in English.

Inadequate Language Services Leave Immigrants in the Dark at SF Public Meetings

For immigrants and other San Francisco residents who speak little English, accessible and robust interpretation services are essential in order to understand what’s said at public meetings and communicate with officials.

The city claims to have the strongest language-access policies in the nation, and a new proposal is on the way to strengthen them further. But, in practice, those policies leave a communication gap between lawmakers and those affected by their laws, community groups say.

After Months-Long Coma, This Latino Immigrant Worker Is Still Fighting Mysterious Symptoms

Osbaldo Varilla-Aguilar and his housemates are members of a community that may have been hardest hit by COVID-19 in San Francisco: immigrants, especially those working unprotected essential jobs. While the devastating impacts on Latinx residents in the Mission District and Bayview are increasingly documented, the lingering, and sometimes extreme, symptoms of infection are much less understood.

After the Crisis: Unique Program Helps Older Adults Grappling With Both Addiction and Mental Illness

More than 1 million California adults — and 19.4 million Americans — live with both a serious mental illness and substance use disorder. In fact, roughly half of all people with severe mental illness are thought to also have a co-occurring substance use disorder. Traditionally, treatment programs target one of these populations or the other. Progress Foundation is one of the few across the country serving people who have both — so-called dual diagnosis patients.

Illustration of textbooks, including one labeled African American studies.

More Bay Area High Schools to Offer AP African American Studies This Fall

When enrolling for classes for the upcoming school year, some Bay Area students will find a new, unique course option that promises a deep dive into the history and contributions of African Americans across the globe.

A half dozen high schools will offer Advanced Placement African American Studies in 2024-2025. This is the first year the course will be available to all U.S. schools following a two-year pilot program.

Many people gather behind Sen. Susan Rubio, who is speaking at a podium at the state Capitol.

Recent Policy Reforms May Help California Domestic Violence Survivors Stay Housed

Domestic violence survivors in the Golden State are getting some help in the form of recent regulatory reforms. That includes one policy that prohibits some landlords from rejecting housing applicants based on their credit histories, which often suffer in abusive situations.

But more big fixes are needed, a UCSF report notes, like additional domestic violence shelters and better coordination of shelter and social service intake systems. Many women find today’s homeless shelter settings unsafe, so they opt to sleep on the streets after they leave an abusive partner.

A collage depicting someone making a phone call about a homeless person in distress, as well as the emergency responders who may be dispatched to that call.

You Report an Unhoused Person in a Mental Health Crisis. This Is What Happens Next

In San Francisco, it is not uncommon to cross paths with a person experiencing homelessness in the throes of a mental health crisis. The scene can be tragic, confusing and sometimes might feel dangerous.

Bystanders might wonder how to summon help from the city — and what will happen if they do.

We created a flow chart to answer those questions. We show how cases traverse a tangle of pathways, through handoffs between dispatchers and myriad public workers. The person in crisis might spend days or weeks tumbling through the criminal justice system or health care facilities. Often, they return to where they started: the streets.

An illustration of a man watching the arrival of a red van, labelled Street Crisis Response Team — a common scene before people are put on involuntary psychiatric detentions AKA “5150 holds.”

The Often Vicious Cycle Through SF’s Strained Mental Health Care and Detention System

Thousands of people last year fell into San Francisco’s complex, reactive, strained system for treating severe mental health and drug-related crises.

To explain how that system works and its effects on the people who enter it, we begin with the story of one man, Jay. As with many others — including those who are unhoused or are detained without their consent following a call from an alarmed observer — Jay had received temporary care, entailing multiple involuntary psychiatric holds, that failed to address his long-term problems. That left him back on the streets to fend for himself or, with the help of passersby, try again to get the aid he needed.