SF offers incentive for companies to voluntarily pay homeless tax

San Francisco will give companies a chance to voluntarily pay a homeless tax approved by voters in November that has since become subject to litigation. In exchange they can receive a 10 percent discount.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved legislation Tuesday introduced by Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Vallie Brown that allows companies to pay the tax under Proposition C, “Our City, Our Home.”

The City is already collecting the tax from companies, but is not spending it until litigation challenging its validity is resolved.

If the measure is invalidated, the money currently being collected would be returned.

But under the plan approved Tuesday, companies can waive their right to get the money back in return for a 10 percent break on what they would have owed.

Officials estimate it could take up to three years for litigation surrounding Prop. C to be resolved. The legislation allows The City to have some of the tax revenue to use right away, if companies choose to opt in.

Prop. C would raise about $300 million annually and was approved by more than 61 percent of voters. But litigation has called into question whether tax initiatives placed on the ballot through signature can pass short of the two-thirds majority.

The legislation was supported by those who led the campaign in support of Prop. C, including the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness.

“Our unhoused families, youth, and adults are dying on the streets now. This is a crisis, and we need to treat it like one by releasing Prop C funds immediately, however we can,” said Jackie Evans, a Shelter Client Advocate at Eviction Defense Collaborative in a statement.

Breed opposed Prop. C, but has since spoken about the importance of having the money to use.

“While we expected that this funding would likely be tied up in litigation due to the legal uncertainty, this is one way to make some of the funding available sooner rather than later,” Breed said. “In the meantime, we are moving forward with my shelter crisis legislation and my plan to open 1,000 new shelter beds by the end of next year, in addition to increasing resources for behavioral health and substance use treatment and more permanent supportive housing for our homeless.”

The full board will take a second and final vote on the legislation next week.

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