What do you believe to be the appropriate role of local government in approaching homelessness?
In my view, when it comes to homelessness, government should try to do a variety of things. First, government should try to address the root causes of homelessness — poverty and lack of economic opportunity. In so doing, government should also understand that any so-called solution to homelessness must involve the active participation of the homeless and low-income people. In the process of developing a permanent solution to homelessness, government should try to protect and defend homeless people who are often victims of attacks on their rights and their persons.
As supervisor, what, if anything, would you attempt to do to address homelessness in San Francisco?
I don’t know that anyone has the answer to homelessness. Ultimately, homelessness is something that I think will require more than just a local approach; it will require a regional, state-wide and national strategy. In terms of San Francisco’s approach, I don’t believe that Care Not Cash is the answer. In my opinion, Care Not Cash is punitive and fails to address the underlying socioeconomic causes of homelessness. To me, addressing homelessness requires creating more social programs and opportunities for people. It also requires addressing larger issues such as affordable housing. Unless we are willing to do all of this, we will be unable to address the root causes of homelessness.
How would you handle San Francisco’s affordable housing shortage?
There is definitely not sufficient and adequate affordable housing in the City, especially in District 9 (Mission, Bernal Heights) where many families, especially families of color, are being driven out of the City. Affordable housing will be a top priority for me. I think that it is especially important for the District 9 supervisor to take a leading role on this issue given that so many Latino families are being affected. The strategy should be to first protect the housing we have and I suggest we create a City fund that provides financial assistance to people who are fighting evictions and foreclosures. We also need to make sure that there is more affordable housing built, which is why we need to establish a permanent source of funding for affordable housing. This is why I support the November initiative that sets aside such funding. I also think it’s critical that the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan is fully vetted and that it includes sufficient affordable housing, protects PDR, and makes neighborhoods more livable for families.
What is your opinion of Care Not Cash?
As I note before, I have opposed “Care Not Cash” because I believe that it is punitive and fails to address the rootcauses of homelessness, poverty and lack of economic opportunity.