Perhaps in an attempt to get ahead of the story, discussed over the weekend, about the pushback she's getting from the Board of Supervisors for her affordable housing-expediting City Charter amendment, Mayor London Breed went on KQED's Forum this morning to talk about affordable housing and homelessness.
In response to polling that suggests that the vast majority of San Franciscans think that homelessness has gotten worse in the city in the last two years — and the as-yet unreleased homeless census numbers seem to bare out that perception — Breed cites the fact that 1400 homeless people were housed under city programs in that time. And she says that she's devoting $5 million in the new city budget to "rapid re-housing" and eviction-prevention programs, which include providing short-term rental assistance, legal assistance, and other support to keep people from becoming homeless in the first place, in cases where they lose their job, etc.
"It would be much more expensive if [these people] get evicted, with the services and support that we have to provide, and additional services to help them get re-employed... we have to invest more in making sure that people stay housed," Breed said, speaking with KQED's Scott Shafer.
She also addresses the issue of mental illness among the homeless, and the Board of Supervisors' proposed "Universal Mental Healthcare" program (which she so far opposes). "The challenge we have is not necessarily providing supportive service to people with mental illnesses. The challenge we have is getting them to accept that service in the first place." She explains that this is why she supports the conservatorship bill, which the Board passed two weeks ago, which would force mentally ill patients into treatment in certain circumstances when they've refused it.
Breed is facing opposition from a majority of the Board of Supervisors over a proposed ballot measure that would revise the City Charter — something not easily undone — that would remove the ability of the public to appeal Planning decisions about affordable housing projects. It's something that Breed says will get housing built faster, but advocates and the Supes say that the appeals process hasn't been the culprit in keeping affordable housing from getting built. One example of a delay that Breed addresses in the interview, a two-year delay on a teacher housing project in the Sunset, had nothing to do with public appeals, but was just about re-zoning issues because it was public land.
Also in her KQED interview, Breed indicated that "one or two" new homeless Navigation Centers are set to be announced this summer, but the city is holding back announcing those until leases are signed.