Budget Passes in SF with Wins for Justice Advocates

by Sam Lew

For the past seven months, coalitions have been engaging in budget justice work to make the City’s $12.2 billion dollar budget one that is for the people, by the people. These coalitions — the Budget Justice Coalition, the Our City Our Home Coalition, and the Homeless Emergency Service Providers Association — fought for funding for the City’s most marginalized populations, including seniors and people with disabilities, people experiencing homelessness, and working class youth and families.

Specific to funding towards homelessness, $24.5M were redistributed towards ending homelessness due to our collective efforts. This includes 473 new housing units or subsidies so that San Franciscans can stay housed or exit homelessness. These include housing for homeless veterans, seniors and people with disabilities, homeless families, and families living in Single Room Occupancies. The funding also includes key investments in behavioral health services for homeless people, including pop-up street based mental health care, mental health services for homeless families in shelters, a residential treatment program for transitional aged youth. There has been a huge gap in the provision of residential treatment services for youth. Indeed, for over fifteen years, San Francisco has not had a residential treatment program specific to youth. 

Employment services were another highlight in the budget, with $450,000 funded to provide opportunities that would serve around 100 homeless people annually. While November 2018’s Proposition C, a tax on corporations that will generate $300 million to fund housing and homeless services, is delayed in court, employment services to homeless people will be key to building up the skills and leadership needed once job opportunities arise with the influx of funding from Proposition C. 

There were also significant efforts to defund budget items that violate human rights. Budget advocacy led to cutting one million dollars from the San Francisco Police Department to eliminate Tasers, a deadly weapon that the San Francisco Police Association has fought for for years — but has yet to be funded! Another win was $163,610 cut from the Healthy Streets Operation Center, a coordinated team led by SFPD that has repeatedly confiscated the belongings of homeless people, swept homeless people without offering services, and displace those living on the streets.


Summary Wins
473 New housing units or subsidies
110 people will have access to emergency housing
10,000 times fewer times will people be forced into the indignity of relieving themselves on the streets 
1,355 households will receive services to stay in their homes or in shelter
100 homeless individuals will receive employment services
1,075 people will receive mental health and/or substance abuse services
Killed Tasers and the Healthy Streets Operation Center 

Total funds redistributed towards ending homelessness due to our collective efforts in next year’s budget: $24,552,390!

Advocates surround a Senior & Disability Action and a Budget Justice banner
Photo by Adam Wold