The Ten-Point Action Plan to Reduce Homelessness contained within this report is a list of strategies that the City of San Francisco should implement immediately in order to remedy the significant growth in homelessness.
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The Ten-Point Action Plan to Reduce Homelessness contained within this report is a list of strategies that the City of San Francisco should implement immediately in order to remedy the significant growth in homelessness we are now facing.
- San Francisco’s homeless population is now increasing by at least 300 individuals per month.
- 5,000 more San Franciscans will become homeless by the end of 1997.
- These numbers don’t even take into account the 1,000 San Francisco residents that will lose SSI benefits due to alcohol and drug abuse on January 1, 1997.
- It is imperative that the City take action NOW to prevent and reduce further homelessness in San Francisco.
Applying this general rule, The Ten-Point Action Plan to Reduce Homelessness is a collection of long overdue responses to the lack of low-income housing in the City. It recommends a full range of approaches which would enable our community to effect a dramatic change in a short time of the number of people being forced into the streets.
The recommendations include the following:
TEN-POINT ACTION PLAN
TO REDUCE HOMELESSNESS
- 1. Immediately implement a rent subsidy plan for low-income tenants with medical needs: The Health Department is considering this program, which would house 100 tenants annually and pay for itself.
- 2. Immediately implement a vacant building lien recovery program: The sale of vacant buildings subject to city liens will increase our housing supply, recover taxpayer dollars, and reduce homelessness.
- 3. Legalize in-law apartments that provide safe housing: This raises revenue from legalization fees and prevents the annual loss of over 80 low-cost housing units.
- 4. Decriminalize squatting in long-vacant buildings: The City should encourage people seeking to obtain available housing.
- 5. Enforce The City’s Apartment Conversion laws: the city continues to allow hundreds of apartments to be illegally converted to luxury corporate suites.
- 6. Limit Proposition ‘A’ housing bond funds to expansion, not renovation: Since poor people have no place to live, resources must be limited to expanding our housing supply, not upgrading currently occupied units.
- 7. Restrict evictions that reduce affordable housing: More affordable housing units are lost annually than will be built under Proposition ‘A’. Stronger eviction protection laws are essential.
- 8. Expand the Section 8 program: The mayor should use his media and political access to increase HUD funding for this essential federal subsidy program.
- 9. Save Wherry Housing: As long as we are in the midst of an unprecedented housing shortage, the 466 remaining units of the Presidio’s Wherry Housing should be made available for low-income tenants.
- 10. Require one-for-one replacement housing_prior to Housing Authority demolition: Housing Authority demolition reduces our low-income housing stock and forces low-income families to compete with indigent single adults for residential hotel units and studios. Public funds should not be used to reduce our low-cost housing supply.
Homelessness has been steadily increasing in San Francisco since the early 1980’s. One of the most significant factors has been the decline in federal and state support for housing construction and a simultaneous decrease in federal rent subsidies. In fact federal funding for new low-income housing was cut by 80% in the 1980’s. The decline in federal housing subsidies coincided with the gentrification of our nation’s major cities. Low-income people–whose welfare payments and wages fell well behind inflation–were displaced by rising rents. Consequently, there was an explosive rise in homelessness.
Over the years numerous agencies have developed programs to address the complicated needs of homeless including clothing, food, income and financial management, child care and housing (just to name a few). However, the entire service system designed to get people off the streets and into a stable living environment depends ultimately on the availability of low cost housing.
Since 1990, affordable housing construction has accounted for 34% of the units completed, or 2,153 units out of a 6,859 unit total. This may seem like a sufficient number, but it is only a small percentage. Overall housing construction decreased form an average of 2,132 units per year between 1989 and 1991 to an average of 700 units per year from 1992 to 1995. The 1995 net gain in City housing supply was only 401 units.