Groups rally Monday before asking the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee to fund more services for childcare, affordable housing and homelessness. (Joshua Sabatini/S.F. Examiner)

New spending requests far outweigh available funds in city budget review

Residents and nonprofits seek $500M in funding for childcare, affordable housing and homelessness

San Francisco’s review of Mayor London Breed’s $12.3 billion budget proposal has found about $25 million in cuts to spend on other priorities, against requests from those who provide services like childcare, housing and homeless services totalling about $500 million.

Residents and nonprofits on Monday lined up before the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee to call for funding for programs not adequately addressed in Breed’s budget proposal.

The requests included more rental subsidies to help tenants absorb rent hikes, housing vouchers for families to move out of cramped single-room occupancy hotels and more funding for child care placements.

Board members also had their own requests, including a proposal to add a new position to their 11 offices called an “administrative assistant” for a combined $1.3 million. That would be in addition to the three legislative aides they have now.

The budget committee will apparently have difficult choices to make heading into Wednesday, when it is expected to finalize cuts and come up with a plan to spend the money cut on other priorities in what’s known as the “addback” process. The process includes negotiations with the mayor.

As of Monday, the committee had about $25 million to reallocate to address the requests. A revised list of the requests was posted online June 18 by budget chair Sandra Lee Fewer with a total of $415 million for next fiscal year.

Fewer released a draft “splending plan” on June 19 that totaled $30 million over two years “that reflect priorities that I have heard articulated from my colleagues as well as the public.”

“I think we all understand that every year, the demand for budget allocations that the Board receives far exceeds the available funding, and this year is no different,” Fewer said at the time. She is scheduled to release an updated spending plan Tuesday.

Senior advocates backed during the hearing a request of $5 million to place affordable housing for seniors within reach of the lowest income seniors who can’t qualify for the units due to income requirements.

“Everybody knows there is a crisis of affordable housing in San Francisco, but what isn’t widely recognized is that there is a crisis within the crisis,” said Loraine Petty, a member of the nonprofit San Francisco Senior and Disability Action. “Thousands are shut out of affordable housing.”

Annette Wong, director of programs for the Chinese for Affirmative Action, called on the board to support $250,000 next fiscal year to continue outreach around non-citizen voting in school board elections, which she said is needed given President Donald Trump’s “outright attack on immigrant communities.”

She said they reached 60,000 immigrants since beginning outreach May 2018 and that The City “has an obligation to be responsible how it implements the school board elections.”

Lina Sheth, interim executive director of the San Francisco Suicide Prevention, a 24-hour crisis hotline, said that their system is “at risk” and it could mean “the collapse of a core city infrastructure for mental health.” There is a request for $600,000 on the list for such things as staffing and technology upgrades.

She noted that they receive 75,000 calls a year and 35 percent of callers are homeless or at high risk of eviction.

The budget committee hearing lasted for more than five hours and concluded at 5:40 pm.


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