Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Shamann Walton announced that funding would be diverted from the police budget toward the black community in June 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Shamann Walton announced that funding would be diverted from the police budget toward the black community in June 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

City directs $60 million toward Black community services and housing support

San Francisco released new details Thursday for how it plans to spend $60 million this fiscal year to help Black residents using funds previously redirected from law enforcement agencies, with money going towards housing, health services and a proposed guaranteed income program.

The effort, led by Mayor London Breed and Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton, is meant to improve the lives of San Francisco’s Black residents by addressing health outcomes, economic prosperity and housing security.

The City announced it would allocate $120 million over two years toward the effort last summer at the height of protests over the police killing of George Floyd, in response to calls to defund police departments. The remaining $60 million is for the next fiscal year that begins July 1.

The City is now calling it the “Dream Keeper Initiative,” which comes from poet Langston Hughes’ verse: “What happens to a dream deferred?”

“We know that to actually see true, lasting change, we need to focus on helping entire families – from early education for kids, to job training and workforce support for their parents, and serve communities that have been systematically harmed by past policies,” Breed said in a statement. “To make these decisions, we’ve listened to the African-American community about what’s worked, and what hasn’t.”

The funding is meant to address long known disparities in the outcomes of Black residents. A Black household’s average income in San Francisco is $31,000, as compared to $110,000 for white households. Black residents comprise 35 percent of the homeless population but only 5 percent of the city’s population.

Rates of diabetes and hospitalizations are also higher in Black communities than other races.

The largest portion of the funding, $14.9 million, will go toward health programs including mental health services, food services and restorative justice programs.

The City will put $10 million of the funding toward helping Black residents remain housed and to assist with homeownership.

There is also $7 million to create a guaranteed income program.

Other spending includes $6.6 million “to ensure accountability mechanisms and enable Black-led organizations to support and track” outcomes and impacts. There is $6 million for job training efforts, including stipends for those enrolled in programs and incentives for students pursuing higher education.

There is also $4.8 million to increase diversity in city government employment, $3.6 million for youth development and early education programs, $3 million to provide support for Black-owned small businesses and entrepreneurs and $2 million to invest in historically Black neighborhoods by improving commercial corridors or funding cultural events.

Funding for the arts totals $2.1 million, which will help Black theater companies and artist collaboratives as well as provide grants to artists. It will also go toward helping Black led arts organizations successfully compete for grant funding.

The funding will be overseen and allocated by various city departments through existing programs or request for proposals.

The spending plan was developed after multiple community meetings led by Human Rights Commission’s executive director Sheryl Davis.

Walton called it “the first step in righting the wrongs of history.”

“We now have to continue to prioritize communities that have never had a chance to build true wealth,” Walton said in a statement.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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