Sup. Matt Haney’s measure to create an oversight commission for the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing passed committee, it goes before the full Board of Supervisors today, and it is poised to make the November 5 ballot.
It’s clearly a point of exasperation for Mayor London Breed that her first year in office has seen a 30 percent increase in the San Francisco homeless population, considering that she made reducing homelessness kind of a centerpiece of her mayoral campaign. To be fair, some of that increase occurred during the tenures of Ed Lee and interim mayor Mark Farrell; but the public impression is that homelessness is getting worse, even though we’re spending more money on it. “Of course it was disappointing and frustrating,” Breed says in today’s Chronicle, with regards to the spike seen in the 2019 homeless point-in-time count. “We’re investing millions of dollars. We’re working hard every day.”
The further-left flank of the Board of Supervisors feels we’re investing too many millions, and not doing enough hard work to address the problem, however. Sup. Matt Haney’s bill to establish an oversight commission for the Department of Homelessness passed the board’s Rules Committee Monday, according to Bay City News. The measure goes before the full board today, and if passed, would be on your upcoming Nov. 5 ballot.
Haney made his case in a Sunday op-ed in the Examiner. “This commission will provide accountability and transparency in budgeting and spending, conduct performance reviews, and investigate delays in contracting and service delivery,” he wrote. “The current lack of accountability and transparency in the Department hurts people experiencing homelessness, hurts people living in supportive housing, and hurts all San Franciscans who desperately want to see better results in getting people off the street and into shelter, services, and housing.”
Haney is correct that other city departments with a budget the size of the Department of Homelessness all have similar oversight commissions — e.g. the Planning Commission and the Police Commission. But homeless department director Jeff Kositsky sounded lukewarm on the idea Monday. “I don’t think a commission is going to speed things up or make us more efficient,” he said at the Rules Committee meeting. “It does provide accountability and it does provide a public forum.”
Things are already pretty contentious between the mayor and the Board of Supervisors on this matter. Just last week, the same Rules Committee shot down Breed’s proposed charter amendment that would have fast-tracked affordable housing and teacher housing, in favor of their own measure that is not a charter amendment, and would not go before voters. The sticking point there was that Breed's measure would put it in stone that affordable projects could bypass San Francisco's administrative appeals process, which the Supes are supes uncomfortable with.
The full board will debate Haney’s homeless department oversight measure today, so time for some board of supervisors game theory. To make the ballot, the measure needs six votes. It already has five sponsors (Haney, plus Supervisors Mar, Peskin, Ronen, and Walton), so all they need is one more vote today, and the Homelessness and Supportive Housing Commission will indeed appear on the ballot this November.