[Hpn] San Francisco, CA - Opinion: Proposition N's big lies - San Francisco
Bay Guardian - September 18, 2002
Tue, 17 Sep 2002 23:51:35 -0500
Opinion: Proposition N's big lies
PROPOSITION N, being financed by big business and brought forth
by media darling Sup. Gavin Newsom, would cut cash assistance to
the poorest San Franciscans by 83 percent.
by jennifer friedenbacz - San Francisco Bay Guardian - September 18, 2002
Prop. N backers clearly believe homeless people will then flee
San Francisco – although they're telling voters this will
actually help homeless people.
Here are some of the biggest lies the Yes on N campaign is
Lie number one: Prop. N will guarantee services.
There is nothing in this initiative that guarantees services. It
simply cuts poor people's income. The money saved goes back to
the bureaucrats. Meanwhile, as many as 3,000 people are
Lie number two: Prop. N will help address the homeless crisis.
Actually, Prop. N will increase homelessness. Homeless people
will lose the flexibility to rent housing on their own. If some
cheap housing becomes available, they will no longer have the
funds to pay for it: under Prop. N, you have to have a receipt
for rent before you get the money to pay it.
Individuals who live in marginal housing arrangements will no
longer be able to pay for it. If they don't have a receipt or a
letter from the leaseholder, they will lose their assistance.
This will hit poor communities, where many are fearful of being
evicted if the landlord finds they have unofficial residents,
Many hotel operators refuse to provide receipts, so individuals
living in those places will become homeless.
Lie number three: Prop. N doesn't take money away from the
homeless, it just changes the way it is spent.
Prop. N does indeed take money away from the individual homeless
person, and that same person will not see any direct benefit from
the removal of that cash.
Welfare recipients do work for their money at the equivalent of
minimum wage, unless they are disabled or in a job-training
program. Under Prop. N, they would still have to work – but get
paid only $1.64 an hour.
Lie number four: Prop. N provides "services not cash – because we
If proponents cared, they would spend all that campaign money
directly on housing – not on billboards and commercials to
mislead voters. Deep corporate pockets should be funding services
for poor people, not running campaigns to slash welfare
Lie number five: Surrounding counties have already instituted
this program and have been successful.
This is simply not true. No counties in the region have done
exactly what is being proposed in San Francisco.
And those who have cut cash assistance or instituted vouchers
have seen an increase in the number of homeless people, according
to the San Francisco legislative analyst.
Lie number six: Other major cities, such as Seattle, Chicago, and
New York, have instituted similar programs and have seen huge
Again, this is simply not true. Those cites have seen huge
increases in the number of homeless people. The state of Illinois
eliminated General Assistance in 1992 and last year saw 166,000
more people become homeless. New York has seen huge rises in the
number of homeless people since 1998. Seattle gives full grants
to homeless people.
Lie number seven: As a result of cash grants, there are more than
100 fatal overdoses every year on San Francisco's streets.
There has not been a homeless death study since 1999. But, there
was no evidence that homeless deaths are tied to receipt of cash
assistance, then or now. Overdose-prevention reports from the
Department of Public Health do not recommend cutting or replacing
Lie number eight: Impartial experts such as the director of the
S.F. Department of Human Services and the director of the S.F.
Department of Public Health support this initiative.
These are not, by any stretch, impartial supporters. They were
appointed to their positions by Mayor Willie Brown, who fully
supports this initiative. If they want to keep their jobs, they
support whatever the mayor tells them to support.
Lie number nine: All homeless people are addicts.
That's really what the Prop. N campaign has been implying.
There's no data on how many people who would be hit by this
initiative are suffering from addictive disorders. But there are
hundreds of people who now pay fees for substance-abuse treatment
who would lose that treatment if Prop. N passes.
Lie number 10: Prop. N will go beyond fractious politics and
finally address the issue of homelessness from sound public
Prop. N is fractious politics! The city has a homeless plan, titled
"Continuum of Care," that was developed by more than 225
Prop. N is directly contrary to the plan. Putting this on the
ballot was terribly divisive.
Jennifer Friedenback is project coordinator at the Coalition on
H. C. [Sonny] Covington, Editor Homeless and Housing News