Dec 01 - -
Harm Reduction Therapy Mobile NEWS
HRTC has been on the streets for 12 months. In 2018, the SF Department of Public Health, responding to rising panic about the levels of homelessness, visible mental health crisis and public drug use, granted the Harm Reduction Therapy Center (HRTC) the opportunity to pilot new ways to bring Harm Reduction Therapy to people on the streets who are disconnected from mainstream medical, mental health, and social services.
We knew that, if we were to truly meet people where they are, we must bring a therapy office with us. We bought a van (a fleet that quickly grew to 3!), converted it to a therapy office, purchased canopies, tables, and comfortable chairs, and set out to create pop-up drop-in centers in neighborhoods with clusters of folks living on the streets. We listened to what they need most and. Non-judgmental therapists who accept people as they are was the biggest request and, for us warm human care is the only valid engagement tool. We also needed to consider the nutritional needs of people whose main caloric intake is often alcohol. Warm food with protein is essential, so we put together a mobile kitchen with stoves and other equipment and cook for up to 150 people 3 times a week. Eating together is the most basic of human activities that connect us, so that’s what we offer! It is easy to start talking and learning about what people need. The rest follows!
We offer various kinds of assistance we offer. We have located our mobile therapy clinics at Mobile Syringe Access sites, and HRTC’s pop-up drop-in centers have also become a popular hub for other health services: the Health Department’s Street Medicine team, Glide’s Mobile (infectious disease) Testing and Syringe Access services, Care Through Touch massage*, and Slowpoke Acupuncture. The Coalition on Homelessness joins us at a couple of sites to apprise people of their legal rights, and several outreach teams pass by to connect with their clients and to eat with us. With music, art therapy, and lots of laughter in the mix, we have 9 amazing multi-disciplinary community centers.
HRTC CORE VALUES:
- COME AS YOU ARE: Meet people where they are, develop a connection. Then and only then will they consider
allowing us to help facilitate their journey toward health.
- Accept everyone, regardless of their choices, their current state of mind, or their goals and respect each person’s right to self-determination. Research shows overwhelmingly that these are the foundations of health, well-being, and motivation.
- Be generous – we do not own anything that we have; we are custodians for the public good, and OUR public is the people who occupy the spaces where we set up each day.
- Build community – Social connection is the number one determinant of health. People gravitate to our drop-in centers where they are welcomed warmly, invited to make themselves comfortable. We eat together, work
together, laugh together, and this is what makes what we are doing so special!