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Indybay Feature

Re today's Housing action at 5:30, 16th and Mission

Some context for you all.

BTW: The actual march portion of today's event won't likely begin until 6:30, for reasons that will be explained later.
Each year, Mayor Newsom – the proponent of Care Not Cash – uses the process of negotiating a budget with the Board of Supes as an opportunity to play political football with the health and safety of San Francisco's working poor and indigent.

This year, the budget initially proposed by the mayor would have slashed funding for programs and services that provide care and support to SF's most poverty-stricken residents and tenants, including but by no means limited to:

· In-home and other supportive services for the disabled, infirm, and critically ill; who need assistance with cooking, grooming and bathing, taking medication on schedule, getting to medical appointments, and so forth

· Mental health and drug treatment services

· Community meal programs

· Legal and advocacy services

The supervisors have held their ground during budget negotiations and it at appears that most of the (initially slashed) funding will be restored. Yet, although the supervisors have to approve the final budget, the mayor still can exercise his discretion to refuse to release funding, and can always hang this over the supervisors' heads -- as he is doing now, by threatening not to release $4M in funding for programs urgently needed by low-income seniors, youths, and others.

Some 6,000 SF residents – possibly as many as 15,000 – who have nowhere to live but the streets. Another 150,000 are living at or near the poverty line and are thus at risk of losing their housing. 23,000 or more wait for housing to open up at deteriorating and underfunded public facilities. If the mayor is serious about wanting to get folks off the street and into housing, then why does he attack, each budget season, critical social, health and legal services that KEEP people housed? Services that cost city comparatively little money? For example: The cost of paying for a senior's in-home assistant is far less than the cost of institutionalizing the senior. The cost of funding legal support and advocacy programs that enable low-income tenants to fight off retaliatory or frivolous evictions, and hold abusive or irresponsible landlords accountable for maintaining their buildings, costs far less than building new "affordable" housing.

If the mayor is serious about alleviating SF's housing crisis, why is it that the sole idea he proposed this year to raise any revenue is actually a give-away to the real estate industry in disguise? The mayor wants to allow building owners to pay the city a nominal fee in order to evict tenants from existing, affordable housing units and convert those units into condominiums. Even if those condominiums were put on the rental market at a later time, they would no longer be covered by the Just Cause eviction protections - or the limitations on annual allowable rent increases - provided by the Rent Ordinance.

We conclude that the mayor is NOT seriously interested in reducing the numbers of folks in SF who have no place to live but the streets; but, rather, is primarily interested pleasing his real estate industry-affiliated backers, and the speculators who keep buildings empty in order to drive up prices.
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