Mayor London Breed is proposing more than $ 1 billion in new funding to fight homelessness over the next two years – a staggering amount she hopes will finally contain the city’s most annoying problem.
This proposal, announced on Tuesday as part of their broader plan for the city’s upcoming $ 13.1 billion budget, is on top of the $ 300 million that is already being spent directly on homelessness each year. The historic investment reflects the tremendous pressure Breed and other city guides are under to appeal to the thousands who live on the streets, in shelters, and in unstable shelters.
Breed said at a press conference Tuesday that the investment includes “more housing, more spaces, more people living indoors.”
“Yes, this is a historic investment for our city, but we have to be honest with ourselves,” she said. “If we want to change something on our streets, it takes more than money. We must also have the will to change. ”|
She said the city will try to help people with addiction problems get better, but “for those who display harmful behavior, whether to themselves or to others, or who refuse to help, we will do whatever we can to help them to bring in treatment and ‘services to get them into the house. We will not accept that people will just stay on the street when we have a place for them. “
It’s unclear how many homeless there are in San Francisco right now, but the number has certainly increased in recent years. The city’s official 2019 census recorded more than 8,000 homeless, up 30% from two years earlier. Other censuses suggest there could be up to 17,000 homeless people in the city.
At the same time, the financing of assistance to the homeless has increased significantly. The Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing budget has grown 80% since it was set up in 2016 to $ 364 million last fiscal year. Meanwhile, Prop. C., a 2018 election taxing large corporations for homeless services, is expected to raise $ 250 million to $ 300 million annually.
Indirect homelessness spending is likely to be much higher as the crisis affects many different parts of the city – from police officers responding to reports of people sleeping on the street, to Department of Public Works cleaners working tents, human feces, and more Sweep away rubbish.
If the board of directors approves Breed’s massive spending plan this summer, it will likely put even more pressure on City Hall to ensure the money makes a noticeable difference on the city’s streets.
Most of Breed’s proposed homeless investment comes from $ 800 million raised by Prop. C, which it did not support in 2018. The remainder would come from the city’s general fund, a 2020 bond scheme, government funding, and one-time federal funding come American Rescue Plan, which helped hit a massive budget deficit caused by a pandemic earlier this year.
According to their proposal, the money would be used for initiatives such as limiting all permanent rental housing to 30% of a resident’s income, financing two new RV sites and maintaining a 40-bed emergency shelter for families. The mayor also wants to create 6,000 new apartment spaces by June 2022, which includes buying new hotels for conversion into apartments, buying or renting new permanent housing units, living vouchers or buying passenger bus tickets back to family and friends of the city.
“As we move out of the pandemic, this budget will ensure our recovery is fair and that we provide solutions to key issues affecting our city,” Breed said in a statement. In addition to funding homelessness, Breed is also suggesting $ 300 million or a 36% year-over-year increase in additional funding for mental health and drug treatment services as city overdoses skyrocket.
“And since we’re changing how we react to people on the street, we also need places to go,” Breed said on Tuesday. “We can have all of the emergency teams in the world, but if we don’t have accommodations and treatment beds, we’ll see the same people on the street over and over again.”
Overall, San Francisco has a budget of $ 13.1 billion for the coming fiscal year and $ 12.8 billion for the following year. That’s a little less than last year’s budget of $ 13.6 billion as major city departments like San Francisco International Airport saw less revenue amid the pandemic.
As for the outlook for the pandemic, Breed said Tuesday that 80% of the city’s eligible residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine and that they “can finally declare with pride and confidence that we are literally beyond the woods – but keep your mask “on.”
The Board’s Budget and Finance Committee will hold a series of hearings this summer on the mayor’s proposed plan. The entire board will then vote on the proposal before it is sent back to the mayor for signature around August 1st.
This could be a tense process between the mayor and the board of directors who have disagreed in the past on how the money should be spent – especially when it comes to funding the homeless, the city’s rainy reserves, and Prop. I, a measure for real estate transfer tax in 2020.
Supervisor Matt Haney, who serves as the chair of the budget committee and de facto gatekeeper to the board of directors for the city’s spending plan, said in a statement Tuesday that his top priorities are investing in colored communities hardest hit by the pandemic. Combating hate crime and violent attacks and funding innovative homelessness and mental health programs led by public health professionals.
With the drug overdose epidemic killing more than two people a day in the city, Haney said the budget should also include “a plan and resources to expand treatment and reach, stop the overdose epidemic, and live to rescue”.
The mayor’s proposed two-year spending plan also includes:
Breed proposes $ 65 million for violence prevention and security. This also includes funding to maintain the current police force through two new academy classes for around 100 new officers. These officers would replace those who have retired or left the force.
“Let’s be clear, the security of our city also requires law enforcement,” she said on Tuesday. “That means making sure we have cops on our streets, walking in time and responding to crimes.”
While activists urged city leaders to divert resources from law enforcement to the community, Breed knew it would not reduce the number of officials in San Francisco.
Instead, she has supported new outreach teams of psychiatrists to respond to the people on the street – although there are not enough right now to avert all emergency calls related to mental health from the police.
The mayor’s budget also continues the $ 60 million annual investment in the Dream Keeper Initiative, which diverts police and sheriff funds into programs that support the city’s black and African American communities.
The law enforcement budget – which includes resources to keep the police force up to date, as well as investing in non-civil servants’ response to homelessness and mental health crises – is sure to be scaled back.
In May, a hearing before a committee of overseers on alternatives to law enforcement attracted dozens of callers. Most urged to relieve the police and invest more in community services, mental health services and education. A smaller contingent called for law enforcement funds to be kept or even increased, citing a pandemic increase in break-ins and street violent attacks.
Mental health and substance use
As overdoses skyrocket in the city, Breed proposes new investments of $ 300 million in drug treatment and mental health services.
That funding would include more funding for drug treatments, a new drug disenchantment website, and expanded distribution of Narcan, an opioid reversal drug.
Breed plans to spend $ 477 million over the two years to “fuel and accelerate” the city’s economic recovery.
The bulk of it would be spent on the city’s remaining COVID-19 response, which includes funding the city’s homeless hotel program through early 2022. It also includes funds for food security programs, vaccinations, and testing.
This story will be updated.
Trisha Thadani is a contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @TrishaThadani