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Tuesday, December 1, 2020
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Housing Homelessness SF voters want more housing, not more police, for homeless crisis

SF voters want more housing, not more police, for homeless crisis

Strong support for bold measures, including $2 billion in spending, in new poll.

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A clear majority of San Francisco residents say that building more housing is a better way to address homelessness than sending the police to clear out homeless camps, a new poll shows.

New polling data shows residents want more housing, not more sweeps

The poll, by David Binder and Associates, shows that 95 percent of local residents think homelessness is a crisis. And 70 percent agreed that homeless people have the right to live and be housed in San Francisco.

Almost 70 percent agreed with the statement that “much more affordable housing in San Francisco for homeless people is a long-term solution to the crisis.” Only 45 percent agreed that “more enforcement of city laws against camping and crime is a long-term solution.”

The vast majority supported a wide range of policy proposals that included leasing more tourist hotel rooms for homeless people (58 percent yes, 35 percent no); providing trailer parks for homeless people who live in vehicles (78 yes, 18 no); provide organized tent campgrounds for homeless people (69 yes, 25 no).

And 60 percent said that the homeless shelters, camp sites, trailer parks etc. should be distributed through all of the city’s neighborhoods.

In fact, 65 percent said that the city should do whatever is necessary to provide housing and shelter to homeless people – even if the cost is $2 billion.

About half said the city should raise taxes to get that money; the other half said the money should come for existing funds.

The poll was funded by Build Affordable Faster California, sponsored by TODCO, an affordable-housing provider, and is based on interviews with 600 people.

BAFCA says that San Francisco could today raise $2 billion to begin to provide housing and services to every homeless person in the city:

A clear majority of San Francisco residents say that building more housing is a better way to address homelessness than sending the police to clear out homeless camps, a new poll shows.

The poll, by David Binder and Associates, shows that 95 percent of local residents think homelessness is a crisis. And 70 percent agreed that homeless people have the right to live and be housed in San Francisco.

Almost 70 percent agreed with the statement that “much more affordable housing in San Francisco for homeless people is a long-term solution to the crisis.” Only 45 percent agreed that “more enforcement of city laws against camping and crime is a long-term solution.”

The vast majority supported a wide range of policy proposals that included leasing more tourist hotel rooms for homeless people (58 percent yes, 35 percent no); providing trailer parks for homeless people who live in vehicles (78 yes, 18 no); provide organized tent campgrounds for homeless people (69 yes, 25 no).

And 60 percent said that the homeless shelters, camp sites, trailer parks etc. should be distributed through all of the city’s neighborhoods.

In fact, 65 percent said that the city should do whatever is necessary to provide housing and shelter to homeless people – even if the cost is $2 billion.

About half said the city should raise taxes to get that money; the other half said the money should come for existing funds.

The poll was funded by Build Affordable Faster California, sponsored by TODCO, an affordable-housing provider, and is based on interviews with 600 people.

BAFCA says that San Francisco could today raise $2 billion to begin to provide housing and services to every homeless person in the city:

Under state law, the city can now establish a citywide “Enhanced Infrastructure Finance District” to sell at least $2 Billion of very-low interest “tax increment” municipal bonds that will be repaid gradually over 30 years from future growth in city property tax revenues. State law allows this funding to be used to build affordable housing and other city infrastructure, including facilities for homeless programs. The annual cost to repay these bonds would be less than $100 Million per year from the city budget. This can provide the capital financing needed within two years to create the facilities and housing needed to significantly reduce homelessness in San Francisco. And the $300+ million per year in new City funds for expanding Homeless programs approved by the Voters in 2018 with Prop C will also become available.

“In one of the wealthiest cities in the nation, no San Franciscan should be sleeping on the streets because they don’t have the money to put a roof over their heads,” said BAFCA senior advisor Jane Kim. “Affordable housing should be a fundamental right for all — particularly in the middle of a pandemic. Residents of the Golden City have spoken: we will do whatever it takes to end the homelessness crisis.” 

The Supreme Court decision on Prop. C might also make it easier for the city to sell bonds for affordable housing; the threshold for voter approval could be reduced to just 50 percent plus one.

But Mayor London Breed did not support Prop. C, resisted putting homeless people in tourist hotels, and has never come out in favor of higher taxes on the rich to fund programs for homeless people.

The poll shows clearly that the residents are sick of the current solutions – police sweeps and temporary shelters – and want bold action. Now it’s up to City Hall.

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.
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