SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — More money is being allotted to tackle the pervasive issue of homelessness in San Francisco, with an additional $29 million added to the $250 million previously budgeted.
The increased funding for the homeless is contained in San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell’s $11.5 billion budget unveiled Thursday, nearly a billion dollars more than last year.
“Homelessness has plagued our city for decades,” said Farrell. “But it has never been so dire as it is right now.”
The question is, will an additional $29 million solve it, when $250 million spent over the last two years hasn’t. To those who believe the city is just throwing money at a problem that appears to be getting worse, the mayor said: “I understand the question, but you have two answers. One, you can either stick your head in the sand and let it continue to grow on the streets of San Francisco, or you invest in programs that work.”
Farrell said funding will go to some old programs and create other new ones.
Among the proposals: $4 million for nearly 200 permanent supportive housing units, $2.4 million will go to the city’s Homeward Bound programs which provides bus tickets to homeless people with family and friends to take them in, and $1 million for youth rapid rehousing.
The whopper: $15.2 million dollars for four new homeless navigation centers. There’s also funding for additional street cleaners and the city’s Pit Stop program, which provides clean and safe public toilets, needle receptacles and dog waste stations.
“Our picture perfect city is blighted with scenes of trash, litter, human waste, drug paraphernalia – we’ve seen it all,” said Farrell. “No one should be confronted by the feces or the smell of urine in San Francisco.”
As for what he would say to residents who are frustrated, Farrell responded, “I agree with them. I’m frustrated as well. This has been an issue since I’ve been born and raised here; it’s been intractable. But we are finding solutions now that are working.”
The budget also provided funding for behavioral health and drug treatment, including a program that would provide an opioid addiction treatment directly to drug users on the streets.