$13.6 Billion Budget Passed
By Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer
I hope you’re all staying safe and healthy throughout this ongoing public health crisis and weathering the storm of climate change. Despite all the bad news, I am proud to say as the chair of the Budget and Appropriations Committee that the Board of Supervisors has officially passed a $13.6 billion city budget that keeps our City running and invests in our most vulnerable residents in the midst of these crises. Our City has had to respond to a series of unprecedented challenges that strained our systems in ways we’ve never seen, and this had a serious impact on city revenues and the budget process.
Beginning in March, the City was faced with COVID-19 and shelter-in-place. We saw escalating and unforeseen costs and uncertainty about reimbursements from the federal government. We’ve seen an ongoing economic recession as a result of the pandemic and a major impact on city revenues – and of course an incredible impact on the residents of San Francisco facing economic hardship. It has been particularly difficult for many low-income communities and communities of color who were already struggling to make ends meet. In response to the police killings of George Floyd and others, we’ve seen calls locally and across the country to shift investments from law enforcement to Black communities who have experienced disinvestment for decades.
In August, the Board of Supervisors inherited a budget from the Mayor that was balanced on a couple of big assumptions: One, that voters would approve a ballot measure (Prop. F) overhauling our local business taxes, and two, that city workers would give back additional wages; a challenge for the Board given that labor unions had not actually agreed to these terms. Moreover, the amount of community asks to address the immense need during this pandemic and recession was overwhelming, totaling more than $400 million.
It was my responsibility as chair of the Budget and Appropriations Committee to balance all of these needs and develop a budget package that upholds our San Francisco values, ensures the best use of taxpayer dollars, and prioritizes services and support for vulnerable San Franciscans. To that end, we successfully passed a $13.6 billion budget with a Board spending plan to serve our most vulnerable residents in the midst of a pandemic and serious economic recession by investing in the restoration of critical services, food security, rental assistance, COVID response and racial equity for communities hardest hit.
This spending plan includes $52 million in general fund resources for rental subsidies, community services, COVID response, job training, health services, and more. Our spending plan also included a modest use of the reserves (still leaving more than $750 million in city reserves) that restores the cuts to city workers and city services, emergency relief for nonprofit organizations and workers, and COVID response for hard-hit communities. In the Richmond, money was allocated for our senior centers, youth leadership programs, small businesses, food security and much more.
City and nonprofit workers have been on the front lines of the City’s response to COVID-19 since the beginning. They have ensured our communities are fed and have continued access to services, worked tirelessly to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and treated individuals who became sick. These workers included the librarians who stepped up early to staff food pantry lines and conduct contact tracing, along with nurses at Laguna Honda who helped to make the nation’s largest nursing home facility an example for the nation in preventing an outbreak in a residential care facility. These are the people who have been deployed as disaster service workers at the Emergency Operations Center and provide emergency response for all our neighborhoods. These are the workers who are staffing hotel rooms for vulnerable and homeless populations and responding to the needs of the community during this unprecedented crisis, including staffing childcare and community hubs.
This budget has historic investments, including:
• More than $17 million for new and expanded housing subsidies for seniors, homeless families and other vulnerable populations;
• An additional $2 million for new food security initiatives for communities impacted by COVID-19, in addition to the more than $20 million investment from the mayor;
• Almost $15 million in emergency relief for nonprofits and their workers on the front lines of the COVID crisis;
• $2 million for culturally competent COVID response, including community-based testing and targeted investments in the Latino and Black communities hit hardest by the virus;
• New Community Hubs to assist 6,000 students with distance learning;
• Right to Counsel, free legal representation for San Franciscans facing eviction;
• New 24/7 mental health crisis response outreach teams, expanded mental health resource center hours, and implementation of Mental Health SF;
• Restoring funds for victims of domestic violence;
• Deepened investment in health services for queer and trans communities, and $2 million toward addressing our black infant mortality rate, which is among the worst in our nation;
• And millions more in funding for community-based services for youth, families, seniors and people with disabilities.
There continues to be an unmet need above and beyond what we were able to allocate in this budget, but I am proud of the work that we have done together to finalize a package that reflects the Board’s and the City’s values. In the end, we are one City, and our communities need our help now. The mayor and I will officially sign the budget in October.
Shared Spaces Program
You may have noticed local restaurants are participating in the City’s Shared Spaces Program, which allows small businesses to temporarily use parking spaces during the COVID emergency for outdoor dining. Many shared spaces are attractive, bright spots emerging on our merchant corridors, offering customers a safer outdoor dining option. This is the time our small businesses need our help; take a break from cooking and support our local restaurants!
Senior Housing Project
I’m excited to announce that we received a formal Notice of Funding Allocation (NOFA) award for the affordable senior housing project at 4200 Geary! After authoring legislation and securing funding to expand affordable housing opportunities in the Richmond, I am thrilled to see this project move forward. The Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (TNDC) is developing the 99-unit project and will be hosting a virtual community meeting with neighbors on Oct. 26 at 6 p.m. If you are interested in joining or learning more about the project, please email 4200GearyInfo@gmail.com.
If you would like to receive our informational D-1 emails, please email Jackie.Thornhill@sfgov.org to be put on the list.
As we enter the fall season, we are also entering the flu season. Do your part to help prevent the spread of the flu by getting a flu shot.
San Francisco Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer represents District 1. She can be reached at (415) 554-7410 or Sandra.Fewer@sfgov.org.
Categories: City Hall