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A lawsuit filed to prevent the implementation of Proposition N was heard in San Francisco Superior Court by Judge Ronald Quidachay on February 5, 2003. Proposition N — a ballot initiative which was passed by the voters in November — would cut cash assistance to homeless GA receipts from $350 to just $59 per month with the (pretense? / intent?) that the remaining amount would be put towards direct services.

The issue at hand is the legality of Proposition N.

According to attorney Oren Sellstrom, who represents the plaintiffs in the suit, the State Welfare and Institutions Code allows that only the Board of Supervisors of the county or appointed agency can decide on the standards on how public benefits are rendered.

Deputy City Attorney Wayne Snodgrass countered that voters did have the right to decide how benefits are paid out to homeless GA recipients. The problem is that proposition N was misrepresented to the voters using slick advertising and feeding off of the voters frustrations around homelessness.

This is how Proposition N was passed.

Proposition N was portrayed as “care” and Newsom boasted that it would guarantee services but the truth is that “care-not-cash” is a careless proposition and guarantees nothing.

It will force people out of shelters for minor offenses while it simultaneously strips them of their benefits.

This will doubtlessly cause an increase in homelessness .

Proposition N cannot get homeless GA recipients the services and housing it claims because those promised services do not exist. Prop N was actually window dressing: a clever political maneuver on the part of an over-ambitious mayoral candidate with backing of downtown interests whose goal is to get homeless people out of San Francisco… period.

Proposition N does not address the homeless crisis here in San Francisco, it is only another punitive measure that discriminates against homeless GA recipients.

The lawsuit filed against the implementation of Proposition N is a stand against a manipulated election process. The rights of a discriminated minority should not be determined by popular vote alone.

Proposition N was passed and being put into effect without any input from its designated agency — the Board of Supervisors, which is responsible for the delivery of GA benefits in the City and County of San Francisco.

Proposition N should never have been put on the ballot, it should have gone through the legislative process, as California state law requires .

Supervisor Gavin Newsom, the author of “care-not-cash,” did not bring his proposal to the Board of Supervisors because he knew it couldn’t muster the Supervisors’ approval. Instead, he opted to exploit the issue of homelessness for self gain and notoriety.

Ironically, Newsom engineered this abuse of process in the name of “care.” If “care” means reducing the income of poor people by 85% making them do menial labor for $1.84 an hour with no guarantee of housing or treatment, then we have some serious disagreement in defining what “care” is.

Supervisor Newsom’s “care-not-cash” campaign touted examples of other cities that had similar programs in place, but what Newsom failed to mention is that these cities such as New York and Chicago have experienced an exponential increase in homelessness — proof that cutting cash payments does not solve anything and, in fact, will make an already bad situation even worse.

At this writing Judge Ronald Quidahay stated that he suspects no matter what his court rules, Proposition N will “most likely end up in a court of appeals.”


Author: Street Sheet Editor

The STREET SHEET is the oldest continuously published street news paper in the United States. Organizationally, it is the public education and outreach tool of the Coalition on Homelessness. Every month, the STREET SHEET reaches 32,000 readers through over 200 homeless or low-income vendors. Our vendors are charged nothing for the papers they receive, and keep all money they earn through STREET SHEET distribution.

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