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Why Prop C is Better Than Any Other Homeless Initiative Ever

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image from the SF Chronicle

Guest post by Rebecca M. Farrar

No matter where or how long you have lived here, homelessness can sometimes feel hopeless in San Francisco. However, that could shift with a new Initiative called Proposition C: Our City, Our Home which is aimed at solving homelessness with the only that seems to help it…housing.

Created with input from homeless citizens, business leaders, tenant right groups, religious organizations, homeless service providers, and city departments, Prop C attempts a holistic approach to solving homelessness instead of the current crisis-oriented options. The proposal imposes a .0175 tax, on companies that make more than 50 million a year (I’m looking at you Twitter and Salesforce). That means that for every one million dollars these companies make, $1750 goes towards housing the homeless and preventing homelessness in San Francisco. Within the first year the fund would have $300,000,000 (yes, 8 zeros).

Here are the major aspects of what makes this proposal different than any other homelessness initiative in San Francisco according to the Prop C: Our City Our Home website, as well as my own favorite things it will do:

* Addresses mental health and substance abuse
While chronic homelessness has several contributing factors, underfunded mental health resources and substance abuse services certainly contribute severely. 25% of the fund, or $75 million goes towards drop-in services, residential programs, and treatment for those struggling with addiction and mental illness. This would include street-based care and treatment facilities for recovery.

* Focused on permanent housing while boosting temporary solutions
Seems like a no-brainer, but housing solves homelessness. With thousands on the housing waitlists, this part of the measure sets aside money specifically for construction and adding to current shelters. 50% of the money or $150 million would go to construction of 4,000 units of housing particularly for families or chronic homeless people. In addition, it sets aside money for operating subsidies and pays for more temporary shelter beds.

* Concentrates on preventing homelessness
The difference between having a home and not can often be legal assistance such as financial subsidies to keep housing. This aspect of the fund provides prevention measures such as rent help and financial support such as for electrical or other household bills. 12% of the fund or $40 million is allocated specifically on prevention.

* Helps the “hidden homeless” such as children and families
Many of those we see on the street are in reality, only a portion of those without permanent homes. These “hidden homeliness” are often families living on couches or with friends or relatives. A large portion of this population are children and families, as 1 in 25 public school kids experience homelessness in SF. In addition, a quarter of the housing would go to kids and 1/5 to youth.

* Doesn’t impact small businesses, only large highly profitable ones
Your favorite coffee shop or restaurant won’t be impacted as those more than $50 million in receipts (fancy word for total sales) are the ones fitting the bill. With Trump administration’s recent tax break, smaller margins for retail than financial, it actually isn’t new money being taken out of the company pockets.

While homelessness has never been as simple as it appears, Proposition C attempts a truly holistic approach to a complex issue. And if that and all the reasons above aren’t enough, cats are really into it. Cats for C is a group of cats (or other creatures) and their concerned San Franciscan friends who “support Prop C and want to act meow.” Started by women’s co-working space, The Ruby founder, Rachel Kong keep an eye out on Instagram for feline friends who are all paws/hands on deck in support of this Proposition. Find #catsforc on Instagram.
Besides Cats for C, these other “cool cats” endorse this proposition:

SF Labor Council
Sierra Club
SPUR (SF Planning and Urban Research Association)
Nancy Pelosi
Mark Leno
SF Berniecrats
SF Democratic Party
SF Tenants Union
Broke-Ass Stuart
Me, hopefully you

These are just some of the folks who have endorsed it

And these “hound dogs” are currently against it:

Chamber of Commerce
Trump (he hasn’t said it, but duh),
Possibly some dogs just to go against the cats

Learn more here and decide for yourself right here.

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