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San Francisco’s $1.3 billion for housing/other homelessness services has garnered headlines across the country. $800 million in funds from the Proposition C tax (current year’s tax receipts plus funds in escrow during litigation) significantly increased this two-year budget allocation. The City will provide more services ranging from permanent housing, shelter, mental health treatment beds, and homelessness prevention. The budget projects that these programs will assist between 11,000 and 12,000 individuals.
How will this budget be spent? The final budget wrapped up late Tuesday, June 29 — with final figures not yet available. As we go to press, the budget is slated to be approved by the Board of Supervisors on July 13.
Here’s a high-level overview using the City budget figures as of June 2. Proposition C mandates strict funding allocations: 50% to housing, 25% to mental health, 12% to prevention, and 10% to shelter and hygiene, with the remainder to administration. What are the amounts and how much do they buy? The Homelessness Prevention program (proposed at $194M) serves the greatest number. It targets to prevent an estimated 8,000 individuals/families from falling into homelessness. The permanent housing programs (proposed at $681M) are projected to provide 2,725 beds. Mental Health Services’ allocation of $340M provides an estimated 337 treatment beds. Shelter & Hygiene with proposed $137M pays for existing shelter and funds 653 new shelter beds (ranging from Navigation Centers to Safe Sleep/Safe Park sites.) The final figures may vary – as the budget negotiations shifted the amounts/numbers.
How do people become homeless? San Francisco’s most recent Point-in-Time Count (January 2019) included a survey which asked 1,045 individuals the primary cause of their homelessness:
- Over one-quarter (26%) of respondents identified job loss
- Eighteen percent (18%) reported drugs or alcohol
- Thirteen percent (13%) identified eviction
- 12% reported an argument with a friend or family member who asked them to leave
- 8% cited mental health issues
What will homelessness in our City look like in two years? Homelessness Prevention (projected to keep 8,000 housed) has the greatest potential to significantly reduce the number of newly homeless. When the housing funds deliver their projected 2,725 beds, they will be prioritized to house the 1500 people still in the Shelter-in-Place (SIP) hotels. This leaves 1200 beds for those unhoused on the streets. Add to that the 1000 shelter and treatment beds, and SF will have approximately 2200 placements for those on the streets. Conservatively, San Francisco has 5,800 unhoused people living on our streets. (Based on the last official count in 2019 of 8,000 homeless — minus the 2200 placed in the SIP hotel program during 2020.)
Net/net: we are investing in permanent solutions. Yet, we still do not have enough housing or shelter for those on our streets. To close this gap, we need more interim shelter capacity over the coming years while the City ramps up its housing programs. (Based on the progress in placing the SIP hotel occupants – which started in November 2020 and is now projected to end in early 2022 – the City may not achieve its two-year goals.) Interim shelter is the stop-gap and can be increased relatively quickly via expanding indoor shelter capacity, use of small cabins, or more efficient/effective safe sleep/parking programs.
Let’s not continue to use our sidewalks as the waiting line for permanent housing. We are simply allowing more people to fall into chronic homelessness. Being chronically homeless means individuals have more health vulnerabilities that require more services and, tragically, that more people will be dying on our streets.
The 2021 CityBeat Poll (conducted by Dignity Health and the SF Chamber of Commerce) provides a current view of SF voters’ opinions. It documents that we and our neighbors are very concerned about homelessness, crime, and quality of life issues.
- Homelessness is the top issue: with 65% of those responding rating it the top issue and 71% of respondents saying it’s gotten much worse over the past year
- 70% say Quality of Life has gotten worse over the past year
- 46% are concerned about public safety and crime – with voters supporting academy classes and community-based policing
- Also voters responded to specific questions about homelessness services – giving a high priority to these programs:
- 80%: expanding conservatorships for mentally ill individuals
- 74%: providing more temporary shelter for homeless individuals
Do you know the story behind the carved wooden bench on Sanchez near 21st Street? It’s a lovely place to sit and enjoy a sunny day or to catch your breath after walking up Sanchez Hill.
J.B. Blunk carved the bench from a giant redwood, smoothed and coated with a protective finish to reveal its rich tones. On March 27, 1999 Mayor Willie Brown dedicated the bench in honor of Audrey Rodgers, President of DHIC during the 70s and 80s. She organized neighbors to plant trees, underground power lines, preserve open space and – her last and biggest accomplishment – to gain passage of the Dolores Heights Special Use District (DH SUD) in 1980.
In the late 70s the San Francisco Planning Department proposed new residential zoning with heights at 40 feet and reduced rear yards to 25% of the lot. Audrey organized neighbors to obtain standards appropriate to Dolores Heights’ character. At hearings they described the neighborhood with its uniform scale of buildings, mixed with abundant landscaping in yards and steep street areas, rows of houses that step down hillside streets with building setbacks with front gardens and interesting entryways. The Board of Supervisors passed the Dolores Heights Special Use District – setting 35 foot height limits and 45% rear yard setbacks. DHIC supplemented the SUD with its Residential Design Guidelines.
Policy 2.7 of the Urban Design Element of the Comprehensive Plan recognizes Dolores Heights as “one of five examples of outstanding and unique areas which contribute to San Francisco’s visual form and character” and in which neighborhood associations should be encouraged to participate in the cooperative effort to maintain the established character. Audrey Rodgers’ leadership helped to retain these striking visual elements of Dolores Heights that we and many visitors enjoy today.
Janice Quinn, Audrey’s daughter, and other family members will be in Dolores Heights on Saturday, August 1 to visit and clean the bench. Stop by to say hello. For more information, email us (firstname.lastname@example.org.) And here’s Florence Holub’s lovely first-person narrative in the June 1999 Noe Valley Voice.
A fun historical tidbit, and a timely one as the hot weather sets in, learn the secret San Francisco history of Dolores Park’s long lost swimming pool!
(It cost just $128 to build!)
“I didn’t know they created a wading pool in Dolores Park soon after they cleared the temp housing after the 1906 earthquake. Seems to have been about where the playground is now.”
– John O’Duinn, DHIC member
As this beautifully repainted Golden Hydrant reminds us, April 18 marked 115 years since the earthquake in 1906 that did so much to change and define our city. As we look back, we should remember that being prepared for the future is the best way to honor our past, ensure the safety of ourselves and our neighbors, and preserve the beautiful buildings and public spaces that mean so much to us.
Our city is made up of many neighborhoods. We need to prepare to be one ready community when it counts. The San Francisco Department of Emergency Management offers several ways to get involved in keeping our city and citizens safe in the event of a disaster.
Another option is to get involved with the San Francisco Fire Department’s Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT), a free training program for individuals, neighborhood groups and community-based organizations in the city. Through this program, you will learn hands-on disaster skills that will help you respond to a personal emergency as well as act as members of a neighborhood response team.
The Mission Police Station Community Meeting:
Tuesday April 27, 2021@ 5 pm PDT
Please include name of station (or Captain’s name) and date for the meeting you want to attend.
Meet your neighbors
Q&A with Captain Rachel Moran, Commander of Mission Police Station
Enjoy some pics from Dolores Heights’ past
at the DHIC Spring Gathering
Monday, May 24 from 7-8 pm PDT via Zoom
Register in advance for this event:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.