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Vote yes on Proposition C for a bold new direction on homelessness relief

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Proposition 10 failed because property owners poured $74 million into a campaign that bred fear among Californians. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

If San Francisco is to fulfill its vision of becoming the inclusive and progressive city that sets an example for the rest of the United States, we must pass Proposition C this November.

Each and every one of us is hurt by the homelessness crisis, and we need to find a new courage if we are willing to do more for our most vulnerable neighbors. Proposition C, also known as Our City Our Home, is the bold solution we need.

The proposal itself is very simple — a small (less than 1%!) increase in gross receipts tax on just those business with revenues over $50 million. Many of these large corporations managed to receive a massive tax break from the federal government when President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in 2017. The revenue Proposition C is expected to generate will effectively double the current budget for homelessness relief in San Francisco.

While a great to-do has been raised over the amount of money budgeted for the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, much of this boils down to scare tactics that aren’t based in policy reality. As Heather Knight’s recent Chronicle article shows, the city likely spends less than $3,800 per person for the 15,000 homeless people it serves on our streets, not the wildly inflated numbers used by opponents.

Prop C opponents are spending upwards of $2 million this cycle to misrepresent current and future spending on homelessness relief. But what’s missing from their calculations is the cost of NOT dealing with our homeless crisis.

When we measure the cost of a chronic homelessness crisis, what are we counting? Prop C would create over 1,000 shelter bed, eliminating the current shelter waitlist, and having a direct impact on street homelessness. The direct benefits to those sheltered are obvious, but the indirect benefits to sidewalk cleaning and retail businesses are being overlooked by our business community.

By increasing our mental health and substance abuse treatment centers, we can help about 4,500 more patients. The direct benefit to those in need of this care will be dramatic, while the indirect benefits will help a city that constantly complains about needles on the street.

Making a real impact on our homeless crisis requires spending serious money on those who need it most. Prop C offers solutions that demonstrate a deep understanding of the root causes of homelessness. The overwhelming majority of this funding goes directly towards getting individuals and families into homes and keeping them housed. That’s no accident. A huge part of what makes this such a well-crafted piece of legislation is the direct input from homeless people and homeless service providers. These individuals more than anyone else know what it will take to effect transformative change as we work towards our goal of an inclusive and progressive city.

Are San Franciscans brave enough to take the right steps toward supporting the human rights to housing, health, and dignity? I believe we are. Vote Yes on C this November for Our City, Our Home.

YIMBY Action is a policy advocacy group supporting building more housing of all kinds as a means of addressing the ongoing housing shortage in the Bay Area.

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