Supervisors back off prior pledge to boost funding for nonprofits

San Francisco nonprofits that are dedicated to efforts such as providing health services or housing homeless persons received troubling news Tuesday that The City would not provide them with a boost in funding.

Many nonprofits say they continue to struggle amid soaring rents and their workers are having difficulty paying the bills in The City and beyond. Median rents of one-bedroom apartments reached a record high last month at $3,460 in San Francisco, according to Zumper, a real estate website, while Oakland is now the fifth-most expensive city in the nation to rent.

Seeking to address the concerns, seven members of the Board of Supervisors approved a resolution in July that said if additional revenues came in, $3.4 million would go to nonprofits for a 0.75 percent increase in city funding. That would add to the 1.5 percent increase they had received at the start of the fiscal year, which totaled $6.75 million. There are about 1,400 nonprofits under city contract that are receiving about $460 million this fiscal year.

“From FY2008-2009 to FY2011-2012, nonprofits received flat funding from the City despite having to absorb the rising cost of healthcare, rent, and other inflationary increases,” the resolution said.

But while nonprofit leaders may have been counting on the additional money, the board decided Tuesday to hold off and weigh other funding priorities. Supervisor Malia Cohen, who voted to approve the resolution when she was up for re-election, was a key vote in killing the funding Tuesday.

“My priorities have begun to shift a little a bit,” Cohen explained. She added “a lot has changed in the last seven months” and she is now focused on funding public-safety efforts, noting an uptick in crime.

Also opposing the $3.4 million for nonprofits were supervisors Scott Wiener, Mark Farrell, Katy Tang, London Breed and Julie Christensen, the mayoral appointee who filled the seat vacated by David Chiu, who had supported the spending allocation resolution last year.

Opponents said such spending should be deliberated as part of The City's budget proposal as a whole. They also said they are open to creating a long-term solution that could include automatic pay increases tied to inflation in The City's contracts with nonprofits, which are done for private contractors and elected officials' pay.

Supervisor David Campos supported the allocation, along with supervisors Eric Mar, John Avalos, Jane Kim and Norman Yee.

While they also supported a long-term fix, they said the need was immediate to help struggling nonprofits.

Farrell said that “for me, this is about process” and noted, “we are facing a two-year deficit.” He added: “I'm open to finding a permanent fix.”

“Process does not pay the rent, process does not put food on the table,” Campos countered.

Ramses Teon-Nichols, a representative of Service Employees International Union Local 1021, said many union members who work at nonprofits were disappointed by the vote.

“Many are one missing paycheck away from having to get the same services they provide,” Teon-Nichols said.

Jordan Wiggins earns $37,000 annually working as a case manager for the Hamilton Family Shelter, a nonprofit helping homeless families find permanent housing. Having been in the field for 15 years, Wiggins believes fair compensation is $22 an hour, not his current rate of $18. “It's frustrating,” Wiggins said. “I don't feel valued as a worker.”

Bay Area NewsEric MarGovernment & PoliticsJohn AvalosPoliticsZumper

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