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Mayor London Breed Unveils City Budget With Investments In Racial Equity, Homelessness Services, Mental Health, And Covid-19 Response

Press release from the Office of the San Francisco Mayor:

July 31, 2020

Mayor Breed’s two-year budget proposal makes critical investments while also balancing a significant budget deficit

San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed today announced her budget proposal for Fiscal Years (FY) 2020-21 and 2021-22, which includes new investments to prioritize racial equity and reinvest in the African-American community, continue making progress on homelessness and behavioral health, and maintain the City’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The budget proposal makes these important investments while also balancing the two-year $1.5 billion deficit with a responsible use of reserves, preserving jobs and with minimal impact to City services.

The annual $13.7 billion budget for FY 2020-21 and $12.6 billion budget for FY 2021-22 is the culmination of months of collaborative work with elected officials, City departments, and community organizations, which was made challenging this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposed budget for FY 2020-21 is higher than the budget for FY 2019-20 primarily due to one-time expenditures to respond to COVID-19, and which go away in the second year of the budget. Public outreach on the budget was done virtually in response to the COVID-19 emergency.

“This budget closes our $1.5 billion deficit while still making critical investments in the most pressing issues facing San Francisco,” said Mayor Breed. “This time last year, we did not expect that we’d have to respond to a public health emergency like COVID-19, but we have risen to the occasion and are directing significant City resources to keep San Franciscans safe and healthy. We are listening to the African American community, which has for too long been unheard and underserved, and redirecting investments to close the disparities that we continue to see to this day. And we’re keeping our focus on helping people who are homeless get off the streets and into shelter, providing mental health and substance use treatment, and ensuring that we can continue providing essential City services for all our residents.”

Mayor Breed’s proposed budget does not include any layoffs of permanent City staff, maintains City services with minimal impacts, and closes the approximately $1.5 billion General Fund deficit through a combination of revenue and expenditure solutions. However, the Mayor’s budget as currently proposed is contingent in part upon revenue from the consensus Business Tax Reform measure, which will be on the November 2020 ballot. Additionally, the budget assumes that the City and its labor unions will reach an agreement to defer scheduled wage increases over the two-year budget period.

Redirecting Funding to the African American Community and Prioritizing Equity

The Mayor’s proposed budget acknowledges the structural inequities impacting the city’s African American community, resulting from generations of disinvestment. The proposed budget reinvests $120 million in funds over two years, predominately from the City’s law enforcement departments, towards efforts to repair the legacy of racially disparate policies on health, housing, and economic outcomes for African Americans. The proposed budget also includes $15 million in one-time funding for the San Francisco Unified School District to support San Francisco’s public school students most disparately impacted by COVID-19 and the resulting school closures. The budget further includes additional General Fund investments in programs for San Francisco youth.

On Monday, July 27, Mayor Breed and Supervisor Shamann Walton released a report from the Human Rights Commission that summarizes the findings of initial community engagement and provides a framework for ongoing conversations and decisions to reinvest in San Francisco’s Black community. The report highlights recommendations, research and data raised through the community input process to prioritize resources to the African American community.

Mayor Breed’s budget is informed by that process and recognizes that the African American community must continue to be involved in determining the specific allocations of the funding. Therefore, the Human Rights Commission will continue leading a community process to determine how the $120 million will be allocated. Based on the initial input from the community, Mayor Breed has proposed that 60% of the funding be directed for mental health, wellness, and homelessness, and 35% be directed to education, youth development, and economic opportunity. The disbursement of funds will be discussed, tracked, and evaluated on an ongoing basis through the Human Rights Commissions’ continuing process of community engagement.

The remainder of the redirected law enforcement funds in the Mayor’s proposed budget will be allocated for a thorough planning process in FY 2020-21 to divert non-emergency, low priority calls for service away from the Police Department to non-law enforcement agencies.

The Mayor’s proposed budget also invests a total of $12.5 million to extend stipend programs for SFUSD teachers in high turnover schools and for educators in the City’s early care and education system. Mayor Breed’s budget adds $5.5 million over the two years to extend the Opportunities for All (OFA) pilot, a youth internship program initiated in last year’s budget. Lastly, the Mayor’s proposed budget allocates another $4 million over two years to be distributed by the Office of Racial Equity within the Human Rights Commission, to maintain and prioritize ongoing community involvement and responsive programming.

Homelessness and Mental Health

To continue to address the homelessness crisis and help people suffering from mental illness and substance use disorders, Mayor Breed’s proposed budget includes funding to maintain investments in behavioral health beds, rental assistance and subsidy programs, and other critical mental health and homelessness programming. The proposed budget also makes new investments to pilot a new crisis response model and seeds funding for the Office of Coordinated Care in the Department of Public Health.

Homelessness

Mayor Breed’s proposed budget includes a number of critical investments in homelessness, to be largely funded by the passage of the November 2020 Business Tax Reform measure, which would unlock new revenue from the November 2018 Proposition C measure. This funding will be used in part to implement the City’s Homelessness Recovery Plan, which Mayor Breed announced earlier this month. Through the Homeless Recovery Plan, the City will continue emergency homelessness response initiatives in the short-term and make 6,000 placements available over the next two years for people experiencing homelessness.

The proposed budget funds a historic investment in the City’s permanent supportive housing portfolio; in addition to enabling the City to newly lease or acquire 1,500 permanent supportive housing units through the Homelessness Recovery Plan, the budget funds a significant expansion of newly constructed permanent supportive housing units through the City’s Local Operating Subsidy Program and the 833 Bryant project. Additionally, the budget adds $6.6 million in funding to continue emergency shelter and eviction prevention pilot programs.

Mental Health

The Mayor’s proposed budget supports the implementation of the first phase of Mental Health SF, a comprehensive overhaul of San Francisco’s mental health system. Notably, the budget will fund the creation of an Office of Coordinated Care within the Department of Public Health, pilot a non-law enforcement Crisis Response Team for engaging people on the street experiencing mental health or substance use-related crises, and increase the City’s capacity for mental health and substance use treatment beds.

These investments would be supported by approximately $66.5 million over two years, should the Business Tax Reform measure pass in November. Mayor Breed’s budget includes $5 million from the General Fund to accelerate the implementation of the Office of Coordinated Care and the Crisis Response Team, so that work can begin regardless of the outcome of the November 2020 ballot measure.

COVID-19 Ongoing Response and Recovery

Mayor Breed’s proposed budget includes funding to ensure the City is able to continue its comprehensive, data-driven, and public health-focused response to the ongoing health threats and economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, the Mayor’s proposed budget allocates $446.1 million to ensure the City has the financial resources to meet the citywide priorities set forth by the COVID-19 Command Center, the centralized emergency operations center coordinating the response across City departments. The Mayor’s budget assumes the City’s General Fund will support $93 million of that total amount, and that the remaining amount will be covered through a combination of FEMA reimbursement and funding from the CARES Act.

This funding will be directed to three main categories: health and human services; housing and shelter; and emergency communications and coordination. The Mayor’s budget ensures there is adequate funding for COVID-19 testing, personal protective equipment, expanded capacity at hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, outbreak management, and contact tracing, among other expenses. Throughout COVID-19, addressing food insecurity has remained one of Mayor Breed’s and the City’s top priorities. The Mayor’s proposed budget includes $45.7 million in new expenditures for food programs. Lastly, the budget includes investments to address the needs of San Francisco’s unsheltered residents in the COVID-19 environment with shelter, food, and medical care.

Community based organizations have been an integral part of the City’s ongoing response to COVID-19. Mayor Breed’s proposed budget includes funding to ensure that community partners can continue to work with the City to provide community-based and multi-lingual outreach and education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Budget Timeline

In order to allow the City to be responsive to the COVID-19 emergency and to ensure sufficient time to understand the full economic impacts, the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors agreed to an updated schedule for the FY 2020-21 and FY 2021-22 budget process which extended the process by two months. After originally releasing budget instructions for the upcoming two-year budget in December 2019, the Mayor reissued instructions to departments in May 2020 to reflect the revised budget shortfall. Departments were instructed to submit new budget proposals to aid the Mayor in developing a balanced budget in June and July.

Following Mayor Breed’s introduction of the proposed budget, it will now go to the Budget and Finance Committee and the full Board of Supervisors, after which it will go to the Mayor for her signature and final adoption by October 1, 2020

Mayor Breed’s proposed budget for FY 2020-21 and 2021-22 is available online here.


This press release was produced by the Office of the San Francisco Mayor. The views expressed here are the author’s own.