San Francisco supervisors start Care Not Cash ballot fight

A battle over former Mayor Gavin Newsom’s legacy homeless program Care Not Cash erupted Tuesday when five progressive supervisors placed on the ballot a measure that Mayor Ed Lee said would “dismantle” it.

Care Not Cash, approved by voters in 2002, provides shelter beds and other services to the homeless with a goal of long-term housing, instead of handing them full general-assistance county payments. Newsom had authored the program and rode its popularity to become mayor of San Francisco.

But the program is now at risk after five supervisors submitted a measure for the Nov. 8 ballot that would eliminate shelter beds as a Care Not Cash benefit, according to the Mayor’s Office. General-assistance recipients receive $422 a month, but under the program, if they receive shelter beds, it would decrease to $59.

The measure’s supporters say it is about creating equity in The City’s shelter-bed system, which they say prioritizes Care Not Cash participants, making it challenging for disabled, senior and veteran homeless people to receive shelter beds.

The measure, however, was quickly blasted in one of Lee’s strongest political statements since becoming mayor.

“By removing the shelter system from the available benefits provided to Care Not Cash recipients, we dismantle this path to getting people housing, ultimately undermining the success of this nationally recognized, award-winning program,” Lee said in a press release.

The program is said to have housed more than 3,400 formerly homeless people, and is a model other counties are exploring, including Los Angeles.

Trent Rhorer, director of the Human Services Agency, said if passed, The City would immediately have to pay out $1.7 million in assistance payments. There are about 300 Care Not Cash recipients in The City’s shelter system.

“It’s an amendment to both clarify and actually strengthen Care Not Cash. It’s not our intent to dismantle Care Not Cash by any means,” said Supervisor Jane Kim, one of five supervisors who signed on board to place it on the ballot. The other supervisors supporting the measure are Eric Mar, David Campos, John Avalos and Ross Mirkarimi.

The measure was one of three placed on the ballot Tuesday, the deadline to submit ordinances or policy statements on the Nov. 8 ballot with at least four signatures from members of the Board of Supervisors.


Seeking your vote

Measures that were submitted Tuesday, the deadline to place measures on the Nov. 8 ballot with four signatures from members of the Board of Supervisors:

Prohibit the demolition of residential buildings

  • Backed by supervisors: Eric Mar, John Avalos, David Campos, Ross Mirkarimi
  • What it would do: Prohibit the demolition of residential buildings containing 50 or more housing units.

Fair shelter initiative

  • Backed by supervisors: Eric Mar, David Campos, John Avalos, Jane Kim, Ross Mirkarimi
  • What it would do: Eliminate shelter as one of the eligible Care Not Cash benefits.

Parks for the public

  • Backed by supervisors: John Avalos, David Campos, Eric Mar, Ross Mirkarimi
  • What it would do: Fees could not be added to recreation facilities currently without an entry fee, and would prevent privatization of parks by not permitting leases of clubhouses and other rec facilities to private entities, but “remain open and accessible to the public.”

Source: Board of Supervisors

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