My fellow San Franciscans,
On Wednesday I signed the Citys two-year balanced budget that delivers on key City priorities, including delivering a clean and safe City, driving the City’s economic recovery, confronting the City’s fentanyl crisis, creating opportunities for all San Franciscans to thrive, and ensuring people have a safe and affordable place to call home.
We closed a significant deficit of nearly $780 million, which means a lot of tough choices were made but I’m confident that this budget is getting us moving in the right direction as our city continues to recover from the challenges of the last few years.
Safety starts with having a fully staffed police department to address needs in all of our neighborhoods. Right now, we are working to fix San Francisco’s police staffing shortage and we are starting to see results. While the numbers of officers remain far below San Francisco’s voter-mandated minimum staffing levels, the interest in the Department has significantly increased
Applications are back to 2018 levels after plummeting during the pandemic
We have the largest police academy class in three years
Retirements dropped by 30% over the last year
Through our new Budget we are investing in more police officers as well as alternatives to policing that help free up police officers to focus on crime and safety issues.
Drug Market Update
Local, State, and Federal agencies are continuing to work together to disrupt the open-air drug markets around the Tenderloin and South of Market areas. These priorities include arresting those who are selling drugs, disrupting public drug use, and addressing the illegal fencing and unpermitted vending.
This year, Tenderloin Station officers alone have increased enforcement, making 502 arrests through mid-July, compared to 566 arrests all of 2022. They’ve seized 77 kilos of fentanyl, which is 541% compared more than they seized during the same time period in 2021.
We are continuing to enforce laws to disrupt public drug use — 191 people arrested or cited. Only 27% identified as SF residents, meaning many of those on our streets are coming in from outside San Francisco. We offer services proactively every day, and we also offer services to those who are detained in our jails. We want to help people, but we can’t just leave people to deteriorate on our streets.
Our local enforcement agencies will keep coordinating with our state and federal law enforcement agencies. This work isn’t easy, but we are committed to making change in these neighborhoods for residents, workers, and visitors.
Homelessness: 1,000 People off the Street into Shelter
San Francisco saw a 15% reduction in unsheltered homelessness between 2019 and 2022, and we are continuing to work to build on that progress. A recent study by the Controller shows that San Francisco has the second highest amount of housing units for homelessness per capita of any peer city nationally, and the 3rd highest amount of shelter per capita. Our new budget funds a further expansion of housing and shelter.
Our homeless outreach workers go out to offer shelter and services to encampments, and just last week they placed their 1,000th person this year into shelter. Outreach teams including paramedics, social workers, cleaning crews and police officers all working together. This is hard work and we all should appreciate everything they are doing.
As an example of their work, on Monday this week they engaged 17 people experiencing homelessness and 14 accepted shelter. On Tuesday they were at Masonic and Geary, where of the 10 people they engaged with, 3 accepted shelter. We cannot force people to take shelter, but we will continue to go out again and again to help bring people indoors.
We need more housing for people of all income levels in neighborhoods across our entire city. This includes building and approving more affordable housing faster. Thanks to our work to prioritize affordable housing and state laws that have helped streamline these projects, San Francisco is making significant progress on approving and building affordable housing.
Right now, there are nearly 2,000 affordable homes under construction in 100% affordable projects. These homes are in neighborhoods all across the City, including South of Market, the Tenderloin, the Richmond, the Haight, Bayview/Hunters Point and more.
This week we also passed legislation changing our housing fees to get more housing built and to deliver more affordable housing funding. We also announced two new educator housing projects – one in the Mission and one in Civic Center. They will join our first project, which is currently under construction in the Sunset.
Building more affordable housing in all neighborhoods of San Francisco is a key element of our Housing for All Plan and will helps the city continue to make progress toward its goal of building 82,000 new homes over the next eight years.
We have been working hard to revitalize Downtown, including changing our laws to make it easier to convert or fill empty space, reforming our taxes to recruit new businesses, and delivering a budget that prioritizes keeping our City safe and clean.
As part of this strategic vision, we also have to think bigger. Last week, I asked the City, School District and City College to evaluate our collective real estate assets and our needs, and to think about how we can use empty office space to invest in our City’s recovery. One example — could we move City staff into an empty office building, and then turn one of our own older publicly owned office buildings into a new housing project
I also asked the UC Board of Regents to consider opening a new UC campus downtown. Our Downtown is filled with potential space for housing, lab space, classroom space, and more.
We have to think different about what the future of Downtown will look like. There is so much opportunity and we have to dream big.
Last week, we celebrated this years Opportunities for All Cohort, which marks the fifth year since the program launch in 2018. This summer program provides students with paid internships and hands on work experience that has empowered young San Franciscans to explore, create, and expand their potential. We know just how important it is for young people to have access to these kinds of opportunities.
More than 3,000 youth between the ages of 13-24 apply for placements as interns and fellows with OFA each year. To date, OFA has supported more than 10,000 internships and approximately 95% of applicants are young people of color. We are building long-term generational change and addressing the root issues affecting communities in our City – part of that starts with ensuring money is not a barrier to our young people’s success.
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London N. Breed