Mission and Values
The mission of CART is to provide an alternative to a police response to homelessness in San Francisco. Goals of the CART working group include:
Developing recommendations for program design
Advocating for adoption of the recommendations by city departments
Participating in the implementation process of the new program
Ensuring accountability and continuity with the adopted recommendations of program operations
The design of the CART program is informed by the common values of working group:
Compassion for our unhoused neighbors
Non-violent conflict resolution
Participation of “clients/consumers” in providing input, program evaluation and critical feedback.
Our History and community Process
Advocates with the Coalition on Homelessness and other organizations have, for years, observed a longstanding pattern of SFPD as responders to calls related to unhoused individuals resulting in problematic, harmful, and at times deadly outcomes. In January 2019, the San Francisco Police Commission passed a resolution that called for an end to police response to homelessness and called for the Board of Supervisors to create a stakeholders’ group to develop an alternative. Preliminary meetings were pulled together in February 2020 under the leadership of Police Commissioner John Hamasaki to design an inclusive community process that unified community members with key City departments and elected officials. The Departments of Public Health, Emergency Management, Homelessness, and Supportive Housing, as well as the Mayor’s Office, were identified as key departments to be involved. Staff from Supervisor’s offices with high numbers of unhoused residents were invited – including the offices of Supervisor Matt Haney, Dean Preston, Hillary Ronen, and Shamann Walton, and Sandra Fewer – and two million dollars were secured on reserve in the budget process for this program. Organizations that had a stake in the creation of an alternative to police response were invited as well.
The process planning was sidelined for a few months when the pandemic hit, but the formal process started up in July 2020. The Coalition on Homelessness hired Patrick Brown, senior consultant from the Justice Collective, to facilitate the process, and various organizations provided other forms of in-kind support. Next, the Coalition on Homelessness convened a large group of stakeholders, including community organizations, city departments, elected officials, unhoused constituents, service providers, advocates, and academics to establish an alternative to police response to homelessness working group that would develop recommendations for the new model of community response to homelessness that did not include police. Patrick Brown assisted over 50 participants in the decision-making process. From the start, the group was intentional about centering unhoused individuals in the design of the alternative, seeking their input to form the foundation of the work through a city-wide Street Survey.
Three subcommittees were formed: research, dispatch, and communications, and collectively the committees created a response model, which effectively responds to the needs of unhoused people on the streets, while very deliberately designing a system that no longer relies on unnecessary police responses. The group decided the new model would be called Compassionate Alternative Response Team (CART).
Who we are
Community organizations, city departments, elected officials, unhoused constituents, service providers, advocates and academics came together to envision a new kind of street response. These are the contributing organizations and individuals:
Central City SRO Collaborative
Treatment on Demand Coalition
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI-SF)
Crisis Intervention Team Mental Health Working Group
Supervisor Matt Haney's Office
Behavioral Health Commission
San Francisco Department of Public Health
San Francisco Police Commission
Patrick Brown, Senior Consultant / Director of Leadership Development at The Justice Collective
John Hamasaki, San Francisco Police Commissioner
Dilara Yarbrough, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, SFSU Department of Criminal Justice Studies
John Stiefel (Community Development and Humanitarian Response)
Robert Smuts, San Francisco Department of Emergency Management