[Hpn] San Francisco, CA - "Exits from Homelessness" measure has big price tag - San Francisco Chronicle - August 17, 2002

Homeless Daily News Homeless Daily News <hccjr@bellsouth.net>
Sat, 17 Aug 2002 06:03:55 -0500


Ammiano's "Exits from Homelessness" measure has big price tag
S.F. puts yearly cost at an "Extra"  $24.5 million

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Rachel Gordon - San Francisco Chronicle - August 17, 2002

San Francisco Supervisor Tom Ammiano's "Exits from Homelessness"
measure on the Nov. 5 ballot, which would provide 1,000 units of
housing and drug treatment for 700 people living on the street,
would cost taxpayers an extra $24.5 million a year to implement,
according to a city controller's analysis released Friday.

The city now spends $104 million annually on direct *homeless* services.

Ammiano and three other supervisors placed the ambitious proposal
on the ballot last week in response to the "Care Not Cash" ballot
initiative backed by Supervisor Gavin Newsom.

Care Not Cash would reduce the monthly cash grant that homeless
adults get from the city-run welfare program to $59, and offer
them more services instead.

If such services as shelter, food and medical care are not
available, their monthly cash allowance of $320-$395 a month
would not change.

Ammiano described his measure as complementary to Newsom's, for
example, creating standards of when the cash stipend can be cut
and providing exemptions for homeless seniors. It stipulates that
San Francisco cannot house a homeless welfare recipient in a
shelter in lieu of cash longer than 180 days.

If that person is not placed in transitional or permanent housing,
such as a residential hotel, the city must restore the
full monthly welfare check.

Exits from Homelessness, or "Proposition O" on the ballot, does not
stipulate where the money would come from to pay for the
programs. But Ammiano said the city could tap into special
redevelopment funds, developer fees and local bond money set
aside for affordable housing.

In addition, City Controller Ed Harrington said "client rents and
state and federal funds for public assistance may also cover a
portion of the costs of these programs."

Ammiano estimated that up to $13 million would come from the
city's general fund, which pays for everything from health clinics
and street cleaning to police patrols and ambulance crews.

He said the money needed for his plan would be money well
spent -- not just for the homeless people but also for the
neighborhoods affected by the crisis.

"Certainly the electorate has spoken loudly about prioritizing
the money for homeless services," he said.

Harrington projected that "there would be no significant increase
in the cost of government" if voters approve the Care Not Cash
plan because it only would shift how existing money is expended.

The city now spends close to $14 million on cash aid for homeless
adults in the County Adult Assistance Programs, as the local
welfare program is officially known.

"Care Not Cash is funded," Newsom said Friday. He would not come
right out and say that Ammiano's proposal could undermine the
implementation of Care Not Cash, but he and campaign staff
members have spent the past week raising questions about how it
would work and where the money would come from to create the new
housing and fund the extra drug treatment slots.

Now they are armed with the controller's statement that will appear in the
voter election guide.

"I think the numbers speak for themselves," Newsom said of the cost
comparison between Exits from Homelessness and Care Not Cash.

Ammiano has said that Care Not Cash would not offer long-term
solutions to the homeless problem that has vexed city officials
for more than a decade. Instead, he said it could make life more
miserable for those living on the edge because they'll have less
money in their pocket to get by.

But Newsom said one look at the state of San Francisco's streets
shows that the status quo isn't working, and that local governments
across the nation have embraced the conversion of cash grants into
services. Newsom believes that some people spend
their money on drugs and booze.

The two measures would focus on 2,756 *homeless* single adults.

They represent about a third of the people who receive welfare
checks from San Francisco because they aren't covered by other
state or federal aid.

The remaining two thirds of the people have some sort of housing
so wouldn't be affected.




E-mail Rachel Gordon at rgordon@sfchronicle.com.
2002 San Francisco Chronicle.
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