April Campbell, a homeless woman, organizes her tent near 14th and Harrison streets in San Francisco on Dec. 1, 2016. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

SF approves $6.5M in homeless spending

Mayor Ed Lee’s budget plan may have sparked some controversy, but the portion of his plan to fund homeless services was approved Wednesday without opposition.

When The City adopted a budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2016, it assumed voters would approve a sales tax increase, Proposition K, for homeless and transit services.

SEE RELATED: Tuition-free CCSF hangs in the balance

Voters did not. For homeless services, most immediately, that meant the loss of assumed $12 million for the current fiscal year.

The mayor’s rebalancing plan announced last week partially funded those homeless services at $6.5 million. But the mayor also drew criticism because to find that funding, he plucked money from another revenue source intended to make City College of San Francisco tuition free.

SEE RELATED: Mayor’s budget plan triggers tug-of-war over free CCSF, homeless services

Instead, the mayor is supporting a phased in free CCSF, or a free CCSF for only certain students. That debate is expected to continue as legislators begin negotiated for The City’s budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Meanwhile, the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee on Wednesday approved of one component of the mayor’s budget plan, the spending of $6.5 million.

“We’ve worked very closely with the Mayor’s Office to identify $6.5 million in critical services and needed funding to continue those services,” said Jeff Kositsky, head of the homeless department. “These are to support services already in existence as well as services that were well along in the development process.”

The funding is broken up into two categories: one for shelters and another for housing.

Of the $3.4 million for shelters, $600,000 will go toward the existing Civic Center Hotel Navigation Center; $1.3 million will go toward opening the new Central Waterfront Navigation Center, which is scheduled to open early next year; and $1.5 million will go toward existing shelter operations.

The remaining $3 million will go toward supportive housing subsidies, with $320,000 for single adults and veterans; $640,369 for transitional aged youths; $1.4 million for existing supportive housing costs like staff and leasing; and $747,000 for senior and disabled adults, according to a report from Budget Analyst Harvey Rose.

The money for adults and veterans will “leverage federally‐funded vouchers for single adults and veterans at four sites,” the report reads. “These sites include the Crown Hotel and Winton Hotel (which opened in November 2016) and the National Hotel and Auburn Hotel (which are scheduled to open in early 2017).”

The $6.5 million are for the services for the remainder of the fiscal year. They are expected to be included in the mayor’s budget proposal for the next fiscal year at an annual cost of $14 million.

The $640,369 housing subsides for transitional aged youths are actually projected to decrease next fiscal year, according to the report. “FY 2017‐18 Transitional Age Youth housing subsidies decreases to $314,369 due to the loss of one‐time funding for housing subsidies and workforce development programs,” the report reads.

The mayor’s budget must be submitted to the board by June 1 for review and adoption.

Supervisor Mark Farrell, who chairs the budget committee, has criticized the mayor’s plan for not fully funding the sales tax loss for homeless services.

“Obviously I’ve made some comments as it relates to the re-balancing plan,” Farrell said prior to Wednesday’s vote. “I certainly hope as we go forward with our budget into next year we continue to prioritize homeless, and especially exits off the streets.”

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