13 Reasons to Fund #30RightNow

Last summer, I wrote a piece for Street Sheet about the #30RightNow campaign, our fight to make sure that all supportive housing tenants are paying no more than 30% of their income towards rent. We are proud to announce that since then, Supervisor Matt Haney introduced legislation that would close the gap for about 3,000 supportive housing tenants. It passed unanimously, and Mayor London Breed signed the legislation as well.

But in our backwards “strong mayor” system, the mayor could actually refuse to fund this. According to the Board of Supervisors Budget and Legislative Analyst, it would only cost $6.1 million per year to make a difference in the lives of thousands of tenants. Even in our budget crisis, it’s still imperative that the city funds this beginning in the FY21-22 Budget Cycle and beyond.

So, here are 13 reasons to fund #30RightNow starting this budget cycle (plus a bonus 14th, because superstition):

1. #30RightNow keeps people in their homes, especially with COVID-19 still raging through our communities. In fact, according to the most recent eviction report from the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, 60% of all non-payment notices of eviction came from the one-third of supportive housing sites with rent burdened tenants, and there are, in some sites, more notices of eviction in a year than there were tenants.

2. #30RightNow helps with emergency preparedness. Often, people are financially struggling by mid-month, and since the shelter-in-place order began in March 2020, a lot of people have struggled with many emergency expenses, including WiFi for Zoom meetings, as well as stocking up on provisions to properly quarantine.

3. It costs the city more to respond to houselessness than it costs to provide real, dignified housing at 30% of income for only $6.1 million per year.

4. Many supportive housing tenants are Black, and the murder of George Floyd has only accelerated our reckoning with institutional racism.

5. In the same vein as reason number 5, the city spends $8.6 million per year on over-policing public housing tenants through the San Francisco Police Department’s District Housing Officers program. That’s $2.6 million more than the #30RightNow ask.

6. Since Proposition E passed overwhelmingly last year, allowing for defunding the police, there is no excuse not to divert funding from carceral systems and into life-affirming services.

7. While the #30RightNow Act cannot be funded with money put aside for Proposition C, a 2018 ballot measure that put nearly $500 million toward homeless services, those dollars will help make sure other homeless priorities are funded, and will clear a path for funding  rents capped at 30% of income in government supportive housing through the general budget.

8. All city revenue measures passed last year, and though they won’t necessarily be used to fund #30RightNow, their passage still clears a path for funding #30RightNow from the general budget.

9. The City of San Francisco can use  retroactive reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help close the budget gap caused by COVID-19.

10. This year’s Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee will be led by equity advocates. The new board president, Supervisor Shamann Walton, prioritized equity issues including #30RightNow when he appointed himself and Supervisor Hillary Ronen to the Budget committee and Supervisor Haney to chair the committee. 

11. Funding #30RightNow in this budget cycle is supported by every supportive housing provider that has units in which rent is more than 30% of income—except for the Tenderloin Housing Clinic—in addition to Community Housing Partnership, Delivering Innovation in Supportive Housing, Supportive Housing Providers Network, and Dolores Street Community Services.

12. The #30RightNow policy statement has endorsements from 80 organizations dealing with housing rights as well as essential community services.

13. #30RightNow is supported by many tenants of color, such as Adriana K’in Romero, a transgender immigrant who lost her job and survived COVID and was helped by a decrease in rent. And just last week, a disabled Black man Supervisor Haney met on the street expressed his joy at having his rent reduced.

And as a bonus reason:

14. #30RightNow prevents people who are in the homelessness system from “holding out” and resisting services. Though service resistance is not widespread, we must understand why some might resist being housed, and unless we can have uniform standards (for rent and other matters), homeless people in our shelters and navigation centers may resist being “placed” if they anticipate paying more than half their income towards rent.

As we hopefully come out of COVID, there is no reason to not reduce rents for all supportive housing tenants to 30% of their income by this fall. As our coalition continues to grow, we will continue to show up to make sure that this change is funded, and we need everyone to join us to make it happen. To get involved with the campaign, please email 30rightnow@gmail.com.