Spending deal will help pay for homeless and affordable housing, shelter beds

A more than $200 million spending deal up for approval Tuesday will provide critical funding to advance a homeless housing project while also adding shelter beds and rooms in single-room occupancy hotels.

All members of the Board of Supervisors have signed onto the deal that pays for salary raises for early educators and public school teachers while funding a number of housing and homeless projects.

The deal, reached last week, advanced Monday at the board’s Budget and Finance Committee hearing toward a vote at the full board Tuesday.

“After a tremendous amount of work, we are able to settle on a compromise that I am happy to say is now unanimously co-sponsored by the entire Board of Supervisors,” said Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, chair of the budget committee. “This compromise reflects both [Mayor London Breed] and board priorities and allocates funding to affordable housing, homeless services and educators’ salaries.”

The lion’s share of the money will go to the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, some $111.5 million, of which $42.5 million will provide needed “gap financing” for the 253 studio units of housing for the homeless at 1064-1068 Mission St., according to the Budget Analyst’s report on the proposal.

The City acquired the federally-owned surface parking lot at Mission and Stevenson streets near Seventh Street that The City for $1, but must complete the six-story development by November 2021.

SEE RELATED: Public health clinic to be moved to new housing project for the homeless

The revenue apparently couldn’t have come at a better time. The department had anticipated using development impact fees to pay for the project’s financing but less is coming than thought and there isn’t “sufficient cash to provide gap financing to this project,” the report said. But with these funds, there now is.

Another $40 million will go to the Mayor’s Office of Housing to fund the Small Sites Acquisition program, which has essentially run out of funding, to buy apartment buildings of five to 25 units to prevent evictions.

The remainder breaks down to $6 million for predevelopment loans to three housing sites for a combined 370 low-income units, including the Central Freeway parcels, 730 Stanyan St, which is the former McDonald’s site in the upper Haight, and 801 Brannan St.; $9 million to help rehabilitate units at the Sunnydale and Potrero housing projects, and $14 million to acquire an affordable housing site in the Mission District.

The Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing will receive $36.6 million, of which $15.2 million will go toward master leasing 300 more units in single-room occupancy hotels over the next two years. Another $15 million will pay for an emergency shelter of 200 beds over two years being called a Shelter Access for Everyone (SAFE) Center. To open the center will cost $3 million and to operate it $6 million annually.

Another $6.4 million will fund 80 additional Navigation Center beds over two years.

Jeff Kositsky, director of the San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, told the board last week that he has yet to find a location for the SAFE Center.

“We have a number of a locations that we are currently exploring but we don’t have a set location at this time,” he said.

Supervisor Hillary Ronen expressed concern, since The City budgeted funding for a transitional aged youth Navigation Center back in the fiscal year 2018-2019 and “it hasn’t been touched.”

“We are very close to having a site for the TAY Navigation Center,” Kositsky said.

The Public Health Department is receiving $9.4 million. Of the total, $4.4 million will add to the $5 million the department currently spends on 40 locked psychiatric beds for those placed on conservatorships at St. Mary’s Healing Center to be able to use 14 additional beds there.

“I am one of the of the people who has insisted that these remain in,” Supervisor Rafael Mandelman said last week of the St. Mary’s beds. He has co-sponsored legislation with Mayor London Breed to involuntarily hold chronically homeless suffering from mental illness and substance use for treatment, which the board’s Rules Committee may vote on as early as next month.

The remaining $5 million will go to purchase 72 additional subacute beds for substance use treatment once people conclude their 90-day substance use treatment. This adds to the existing 96 beds.

Mandelman said these substance use beds are intended to break a cycle of addiction. “We can get them into a 90-day program. But we frequently have nowhere for them to go after that 90 days is up,” Mandelman said. “So they go from a very short drug treatment program to the streets, back to an SRO unit, wherever it is, but they are not able to continue to receive care.”

The money came from property taxes in the Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund returned to The City by the state in November, setting off a debate on how best to use the revenue. The total funding was about $400 million, but various requiring spending mandates automatically earmarked about half the funds leaving the board to the debate about how to spend the remaining half.

The board’s deal adds $10 million to the $9.5 million mandated spending to the Office of Early Care and Education, which funds 350 programs employing 2,750 professionals, who will receive wage hikes from the pot of money.

The deal also allocates $13.5 million to fund salary increases to San Francisco Unified School District teachers.

An additional $52 million would be put in a reserve fund for wage of both early educators and teachers in fiscal year 2020-2021.

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