Did you hear the news? The SF Chamber of Commerce and its variety of flunkies has come out in force against Our City Our Home, also known as Proposition C. How shocking! We have expressed our opinion about the Chamber Of Commerce in a previous article, but they just won’t stop.
This is so tedious — but in the era of Fake News, Donald Trump and the Kardashians, can we really afford any more confusion? Call us “Snopes of the Proletariat”, ‘cause we got your facts, right here.
Fact: The San Francisco homelessness crisis is a product of the San Francisco economy.
We know that more than 70% of San Francisco’s unhoused people used to have homes in San Francisco. They are victims of rising housing prices, an influx of business travel, and real estate speculation. For example, as of this writing, there are more than 1500 empty SRO beds in San Francisco that the owners are hoping to sell instead of renting to tenants.
You might have heard the myth that people come to San Francisco because of how good our services are. As we just noted, almost three-quarters of our unhoused people were once renters here. And in terms of our services, the truth is that we spend half as much money per person as Washington DC does. This lie is a fairy tale designed to make us feel better about not taking this problem seriously — and to keep money in the pockets of the ultra-rich. The homeless are people, like you and me, who have fallen on really hard times. They need our help.
Fact: Abuse will not help the homeless crisis. Housing and money will.
Some people will tell you that we need to abuse people instead of housing them. They’ll give it a feel-good label like “tough love”, and insist that these people need to be treated ever more shabbily to show them the errors of their ways. That’s not what science says. Studies show that criminalizing homelessness is both inhumane and ineffective.
In fact, the crisis in California has only grown, despite prosecution. Consider: in the last 15 years, San Francisco has passed laws banning tents (Proposition Q, 2016), sitting on the streets (Proposition L, 2010), and panhandling (Proposition M, 2003). DPW started taking people’s belongings while they are getting food at GLIDE, a church of all places! As we have seen over the past few years, abuse has done nothing to reduce homelessness in San Francisco.
We need real solutions. We need to house people. Housing the unhoused is the only proven way to deal with this crisis. We haven’t tried this at all.
Right now, San Francisco tries to house 9500 people at a cost of $26 per person, per night, while running drop-in centers and other infrastructure on the same budget. In other words, the city is spending 3% of its budget on housing more than 7000 people and sheltering another 2500 nightly. This is several times less than our police budget, or the homelessness budgets of other cities like Washington DC. Even the Chronicle is happy to point out that the bizarre math of Prop C detractors is simply wrong. We need to house people, and Prop C will do just that.
Fact: Proposition C won’t hurt the job market. If you opposed the Trump tax cut, you should support Proposition C.
Proposition C levies a minuscule tax, averaging 0.5%, on corporations that have recently received a 14% tax cut from the Trump administration’s reckless policies. Moreover, the new tax is only applied to gross receipts exceeding $50 million — with extra breaks for low-margin retail. That leaves the huge tax cut for SF’s wealthiest businesses almost entirely intact in 2019. If you opposed the Trump tax plan, support this one. Also, for the record, San Francisco has a ridiculously low unemployment rate of 2.6%, so the notion that employers would depart over this is an absurd one.
Still scared? Consider this.
In 2012, San Francisco was trying to attract more tech business to the city. It gave businesses headquartered here a variety of tax management options, including an option to pay a payroll tax increase instead of gross receipts tax. Unfortunately there are options here — and if they are so scared of a gross receipts increase, they can find a different way to pay their share.
Proposition C is not going to hurt the job market. That’s a fact.
Fact: Proposition C has a well-informed plan, based on known solutions with built-in accountability.
It is literally on the website, under “Plan”.
To summarize: 50% of the funds raised will pay for 4000 units of housing, 25% of the funds will pay for mental health services, 10% will provide more shelter beds, and the remaining 15% will pay for homelessness prevention. Prop C also requires an Oversight Committee, comprised of nine experts tasked with recommending funding priorities and auditing the effectiveness of the spending. This plan was devised by experienced city leaders and homelessness advocates, who have been on the ground dealing directly with this problem for years.
Fact: Proposition C has been endorsed by both progressive and moderate politicians.
Our City Our Home has been endorsed by basically everyone, because it is the only way to fix the crisis.
Endorsements include the noted capitalist Rep. Nancy Pelosi, The San Francisco Democratic Party (DCCC), and the Sierra Club. They also include Mark Leno, Jane Kim, and Angela Alioto — the three mayoral candidates who could seemingly agree on nothing during their campaigns.
That endorsement list is on the website and growing daily.
Fact: The homeless crisis hurts all of us.
Sign up to volunteer for Proposition C here and remember to vote YES on C in November.