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San Francisco’s budget crisis seems to be getting worse every day. In an almost predictable fashion, poor and homeless people including families are being expected to pay for it. Homeless drop-in centers for adults and families are slated for closure. Over 500 people will lose their mental health treatment, and over 3,500 people would lose their substance abuse treatment.

While the health department is expecting a devastating round of cuts, other city departments such as SFPD and SFFD come out unscathed. There are no plans to cut any of the Mayor’s office, even the expensive public relations expenditures such as the Mayor’s Press Office. Non-profits are being slashed while civil service managers would go on earning. In fact, if the manager’s salaries within the city were capped at $90,000 a year, including overtime and bonuses, the city could save over $131,000,000.

We know the City is in a hard place, and this fiscal situation is indeed a nightmare. However, the People’s Budget would like the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor to adopt some basic principles that would make for a fair budget. We also have an exhaustive list of revenues and savings to fund poor people’s needs and eliminate the cuts. Poor people cannot bear the brunt of losses in local revenues. Here are the principles:


We are facing a crisis in San Francisco, that threatens the health and well being of San Francisco’s most vulnerable populations. Given this environment, we have laid out basic principles to assist policy makers in prioritizing how funds are spent.

Decision making around budget in San Francisco should be based on the following criteria.

When funding is limited, the most vulnerable populations should be prioritized.

Alternatives to provide services and/or alternative funding sources should be looked at.

Funding used to displace human beings from public space should be cut, as should funding used to violate human and civil rights.

Wasteful spending, sweetheart deals and appointments should be identified and cut.

Proactively fund services that directly benefit individuals to prevent higher costs down the line. For example: 1) community mental health care avoids psychiatric emergency costs, 2) spending money to sweep homeless people takes money away from housing which would avoid the need for sweeps in the first place, 3) supporting families living in poverty prevents expensive foster care costs.

Revenue should be sought from those who can afford to pay.

The budget process should be transparent, and should include community at all levels of decision making.

Essential services should be defined as housing, food, income supports, homeless prevention, health care, education and other basic life necessities for poor people and low wage workers.

Conduct and follow up with audits on a regular basis. Prioritize permanent solutions to poverty and homelessness for families.

Budget decision should move the city towards social equality.

Cap management salaries for Non-profits and city employees at $75,000 per year.

Management bonuses for salary savings should be eliminated. Individual gains should not be made at the expense of poor people and working poor.

If all else fails, all possible revenue and savings have been garnered, and poor people’s programs must be cut, then:

  • Consider a more equitable sharing of the pain. For example: 1) families vs. single adults 2) Non-profit contractors vs. Civil Service 3) Only cut those who can bear the pain
  • Save as much of any one program as possible.

To get involved, please come to People’s Budget meetings. They take place every other Wednesday at 474 Valencia. The dates for May 7th and May 21st. For more information, contact Jennifer at 346-3740 x 311.


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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