[Hpn] SFGate: Care Not Cash sent to limbo
Thu, 17 Jul 2003 09:03:20 -0700
Care Not Cash sent to limbo
Daly's alternative that limits welfare check cuts passes
Rachel Gordon, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, July 17, 2003
©2003 San Francisco Chronicle | Feedback
San Francisco -- San Francisco supervisors left the voter-approved Care Not
Cash homeless welfare reform measure on life support, but made clear it's
unlikely to become law without major changes.
After a long debate, the board voted late Tuesday to send Care Not Cash
legislation back to committee for further consideration. Supervisor Gavin
Newsom, who sponsored the measure, had little choice because he did not have
the votes to get it passed.
"Colleagues," Newsom said, "we're moving in a very appropriate direction. .
. . We've moved away from the acrimony about whether or not we should have a
cash-based system or a service-enriched system to how we can have a service-
enriched system. I think that's an extraordinary accomplishment."
Board President Matt Gonzalez said the only reason Newsom is willing to
budge is because he has no choice.
"Let's be candid," Gonzalez said of Newsom's willingness to compromise.
"It's because you walked into the chambers and you didn't have the votes to
pass the item."
With Care Not Cash still undecided, the board voted 7-4 to approve an
alternative sponsored by Supervisor Chris Daly. His measure would prohibit
the city from cutting a homeless person's welfare check unless it made
available a room in a residential hotel or a bed in a drug treatment program
-- not just a spot in a shelter.
The measure now goes to Mayor Willie Brown, who said he has not decided what
to do. Daly said the ordinance would affect several hundred homeless people,
far fewer than Care Not Cash.
Care Not Cash would allow a reduction in a welfare recipient's cash stipend
from as much as $395 a month to $59 even if a shelter bed was all the city
could offer. Under the rules of the board, Care Not Cash, if adopted, would
supersede Daly's plan.
Even if the board eventually turns down Care Not Cash, there's still the
question of what will become of the nearly identical initiative that voters
approved last fall. A judge struck down the law, ruling that only
supervisors could set welfare policy. City Attorney Dennis Herrera has
appealed the decision.
In its 6-5 vote Tuesday to keep Care Not Cash alive, the board signaled that
changes would be made. Supervisor Tony Hall introduced what he calls
companion legislation that would cap the amount of money that could be spent
on services without further Board of Supervisors approval. Another proposal
calls for screening out substance abusers and cutting their aid if they
won't participate in a treatment program.
Newsom introduced his own amendment -- similar to Hall's in theory,
different in detail -- that would place limits on spending. Supervisor Fiona
Ma floated another amendment, this one dealing with length of stays in
shelters, that she said would sway her to endorse Care Not Cash.
"I wish all of this Monday-morning quarterbacking would have happened last
year so the legislative process and the give and the take could have
happened instead of us going to the ballot," said Supervisor Tom Ammiano, a
Care Not Cash critic who like Newsom is running for mayor.
Newsom has said he went to the ballot because he had no confidence his
colleagues would support his proposal.
E-mail Rachel Gordon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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