It’s time to finally do something about homelessness. For too long we have watched as this crisis has overtaken our City, affecting public services, transit, tourism, and businesses, while those directly impacted continue to suffer. For years now, San Francisco has put band-aids on the issue, but our elected leaders have yet to commit the resources necessary to adequately address this complex problem. With so much at stake, we need more than a band-aid. San Francisco needs a bold, evidence-based solution that is comprehensive and well-funded. We finally have one in Proposition C – Our City, Our Home.
As LGBTQ leaders in San Francisco, we recognize that finding real and lasting ways to reduce homelessness must go beyond politics and ideology. Our community has always been on the front lines, fighting for the most vulnerable and marginalized among us. It’s a legacy that we are proud to carry on as we advocate for viable solutions to homelessness, knowing that the LGBTQ community in particular is disproportionately impacted by this issue. It is estimated that our community makes up just 14 percent of the City’s population, yet 30 percent of those who are homeless identify as LGBTQ. Among homeless youth, the number jumps to nearly half. This is deeply personal for us.
Prop C asks the wealthiest corporations in San Francisco – all of which benefit from our infrastructure, innovation, and diversity – to pay just half a percent on revenue they make above $50 million, raising much-needed revenue strategically directed toward services and programs.
Prop C’s critics claim that we already spend too much on homelessness. In reality, we spend less than three percent of our budget addressing it. Two-thirds of this budget serves those already sheltered or housed and programs aimed at preventing people from becoming homeless in the first place, leaving those living on our streets underserved. We need to do more.
Prop C takes a holistic approach to solving homelessness. 50 percent of the generated revenue would produce, rehab, and subsidize over 4,000 units of housing. Twenty-five percent would provide services and housing to the severely mentally ill and those battling substance abuse. Fifteen percent would provide more subsidies to individuals at risk of becoming homeless, keeping people in their homes before they become homeless. The measure also addresses acute needs, allocating ten percent to fund drop-in hygiene centers with bathrooms and showers, and to add more than 1,000 beds to shelters and navigation centers, effectively eliminating the current waitlist of more than 1,000 people.
Critics also argue this tax is a terrible burden for businesses, and that it will drive them out of the City, taking middle-class jobs with them. We find this hard to believe, given that a half-percent tax above $50 million is a mere drop in the bucket compared to the Trump corporate tax breaks they just received, effectively lowering their tax rate from 35 to 21 percent. But don’t take our word for it: a report released last week by San Francisco’s Chief Economist, Ted Egan, states “the measure will likely reduce homelessness in San Francisco, improving health outcomes and reducing the use of acute and emergency services in the city” with economic impacts that are “small in the context of the city’s job market and economy, equal to a 0.1% difference, on average, over 20 years.”
Prop C was written in consultation with experts, City department heads, advocates, and foundations, and it has the support of a remarkable range of leaders and advocates: Congresswoman Jackie Speier and Leader Nancy Pelosi, the majority of the Board of Supervisors, including Supervisors Rafael Mandelman and Vallie Brown, YIMBY SF, SPUR, and the Democratic Socialists of America SF. And, we are proud to say, both the Alice B. Toklas and the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic clubs endorse Prop C. We hope that Mayor London Breed will soon join this broad coalition, given many of her stated priorities would be directly funded by this measure. We share those priorities and want to see them become a reality.
While we sometimes find ourselves on opposing sides in elections, Alice and Milk are and will always be united in fighting for our community. This year, it means coming together to make a real difference in reducing homelessness. Please join us in voting Yes on C on or before November 6th.
Eric Lukoff and Gina Simi are co-chairs of the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club, and Honey Mahogany and Carolina Morales are co-presidents of the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club.