SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee on Thursday introduced a two-year budget plan that includes more funding for addiction, mental health and homelessness services as well as quality of life issues such as potholes and street cleaning.
The budget proposal includes about $10 billion in spending for each of the next two fiscal years, around half of which goes toward general fund spending on services including public health, police and fire and recreation and parks.
Speaking before the Board of Supervisors, Lee said his proposal includes new investments in reducing the harm caused by drug addiction and for homelessness programs, while maintaining funding levels for housing, transportation, parks, education street repaving and infrastructure projects.
“The issues plaguing our streets are undeniable, though not unique to San Francisco,” Lee said.
“The budget I put forward today presents new investments to address the behavioral health issues and heartbreaking evidence of addiction we witness on our streets daily,” he said.
That new spending will include additional outreach teams to work with homeless people with behavioral health issues, an expansion of hours at the Harm Reduction Center and a new 24/7 resource center to allow the homeless to access services, medical care and take a break from living on the streets.
The funding for services related to drug addiction drew praise from Supervisor Jeff Sheehy and Board President London Breed, who launched a task force earlier this year exploring the concept of a safe injecting room for drug users.
“The open drug use and used needles littering our sidewalks are unacceptable and it’s our responsibility as a caring city to make this crisis a priority,” Breed said. “I am confident our task force, coupled with budget investments, can make a significant impact in helping drug users off the streets and into treatment.”
Sheehy said the budget recognized that homelessness is a public health crisis.
“The expansion of the Sixth Street Harm Reduction Center will literally save lives and help break the cycle of addiction,” Sheehy said.
The budget also includes an increase in the number of beds in Navigation Centers, city shelters that offer intensive case management and services along with a more flexible, welcoming atmosphere, as well as other investments in shelters, supportive housing and rental subsidies.
The budget includes $6 million for the creation of a new Navigation Center at a location yet to be determined, funding for family, youth, LGBT and veteran homelessness programs, $4 million for homeless childcare programs and $2 million to add 30 new shelters beds for homeless families.
Lee was quick to warn, however, that he also planned to step up encampment teams working to break up homeless camps and get people off the street.
“We must have compassion, but we must also have common sense,” he said. “No person should be living in a tent on our streets or in a filthy, unsanitary and unsafe encampment.”
The mayor’s budget proposal also includes a capital budget of $530 million, including nearly $90 million street resurfacing and $84 million for Recreation and Park capital projects.
It also expands the mayor’s Fix-It initiative, which focuses on neighborhood quality of life issues such as graffiti, overgrown trees, poor lighting and cracked sidewalks. The street cleaning budget will also increase by $3.5 million over the next two years.
In response to potential changes in federal funding from the current administration, the budget also includes a $50 million Affordable Care Act reserve and a $10 million state and federal impacts reserve.
The Board of Supervisors will hold hearings on the budget this month and must vote on a final proposal by Aug. 1 before it returns to the mayor’s desk for his signature.
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