(Ed note: Mayor Newsom announced yesterday that he was offering the largest budget for children’s services in history, but as discussed below his proposal fell short of the expectations of children and housing advocates. In addition to the programs discussed below, the Mayor did not increase the amount of general fund money for rent subsidies beyond the $1 million previously allocated by the Board of Supervisors)
Will the Mayor’s Budget Priorities Keep Working Families in San Francisco?
Coleman Advocates for Children & Youth is pleased that the Children’s Baseline requirements are working on behalf of kids just as we had hoped when we worked with thousands of voters and advocates to pass the last Children’s Amendment in 2001. When there is a significant increase in discretionary revenue to the city, funding for children’s services must increase as well. Due to the booming real estate industry – which is pushing families with children out of the city – San Francisco is experiencing good tax revenue news this year. By law, the city will need to expand services to children by about $15 million.
We are also pleased that the Mayor’s children’s services plan reflects a commitment to children in the city’s poorest neighborhoods. The city’s recent Economic Performance report recently recognized that there is severe racial and economic inequality in the city – in fact we are the third most unequal city in the nation. Turning that reality around requires significant investment from both the public and private sectors, and increasing support services to children & youth in the city’s most neglected communities is a step in the right direction.
As San Francisco’s leading child advocacy organization, Coleman Advocates has twice won passage of the Children’s Amendment and the passage of Prop H (the Public Education Enrichment Fund), which collectively dedicate more than $60 million dollars annually to children in San Francisco. And for the last fifteen years, our advocacy has focused on protecting city services to kids. But this year, we have responded to the crisis facing working families in the city and have changed focus somewhat.
Our number one concern has become the dramatic decline in families with children in San Francisco. San Francisco now has the smallest child population of any major US city, and low and moderate income families in particular are being pushed out of the city they call home. (See Families Struggle To Stay: Why Families are Leaving San Francisco and What Can be Done, at www.colemanadvocates.org) It is clear that children’s services are of no use if the city has no children.
It is also clear, from reports of the Mayors Policy Council on Children, Youth & Families, from the Controller’s City Survey, and our own research, that low and moderate income families are being pushed out of the city because San Francisco has become so expensive and increasingly affordable only to the wealthy.
Thousands of families with kids are forced to leave the city in search of more affordable places to live – in Richmond, Hayward, Daly City and as far away as Sacramento. The reality, ignored for too long by city officials, is that families need affordable housing and economic security to be able to stay in San Francisco and raise their children here. While all support services help, the core issues for families are housing, childcare and jobs. Yet housing and job training are not ‘kids services’ and do not count towards the children’s baseline.
This year, we are working with a broad coalition of working families and service providers called the Budget 4 Families Coalition. We have a Budget Plan for the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors that specifically addresses the problems that families say are driving them from the city. Our Budget Plan, based on surveys of 2000 parents, youth and providers and on significant policy research, asks for a $10 million city investment to make the city safer and more affordable to families:
According to the latest news available to us, Mayor Newsom is supporting about $3.2 million of our $10 million plan – $2 million of our recommendations in childcare, and $1.2 million of our recommendation in violence prevention services, for the expansion of Wellness Centers. This is a significant investment, and worthy of applause and appreciation.
We are still waiting to hear the Mayor’s final word on how much he will invest in our $10 Million plan to keep families in the city.
Before June 1st we are hoping to hear, additionally, the Coalition’s top priorities funded in the Mayor’s budget submission to the Board of Supervisors, as a message that the Mayor’s Budget Priorities truly include keeping working families with children in San Francisco:
1. $1 million investment in rental assistance funds to help hundreds of families stay in the city.
2. An additional $1 million for affordable quality childcare: $750,000 to increase access to infant/toddler care for working parents; and $250,000 for mental health services for children impacted by violence and family crisis.
If, on May 31st, the Mayors budget does not include this additional $2 million investment, the Mayor will have missed the mark on addressing the core issues that San Francisco’s low and moderate income families face.
For more information about the Budget 4 Families Campaign or Coleman Advocates, contact NTanya Lee, Executive Director, at 239.0161, or go to www.colemanadvocates.org.
Budget 4 Families Coalition $10 Million Budget Plan to Help Keep Low & Moderate Income Families in San Francisco. We surveyed 2000 people to come up with this list, and 800 people came to Speak Up for Families Day to support it!
RENTAL ASSISTANCE & EVICTION PREVENTION
1. Significantly increase rental assistance funds to help families keep their housing. $2,000,000
JOB TRAINING & PLACEMENT IN LIVING WAGE JOBS
1.Increase city funding for community-based job training programs so families can get good jobs. $1,500,000
2. Create & Fund a re-entry program for CityBuild so ex-offenders can get union construction jobs. $750,000
3. Expand CityBuild to increase access of low-income young adults and parents to the union-wage jobs in the construction industry. $250,000
QUALITY, AFFORDABLE CHILDCARE
1.Increase funding for city’s childcare voucher program for 130 low-income working families with infants or toddlers. $1,500,000
2.Increase funding for city’s “infant/toddler sustaining grants” program, that preserves desperately need infant/toddler slots in quality child care sites across the city. $1,000,000
3. Increase funding for on-site support services to 1300 young children in child care centers through the Early Childhood Mental Health Initiative. $500,000
COMMUNITY-BASED VIOLENCE PREVENTION SERVICES
1.Increase case management services for 90 victims of gun violence, accessed when treated at General Hospital’s Trauma Center (Wraparound Project) $100,000
2. Expand funding for community-based crisis response collaboratives in neighborhoods hardest hit by gun violence $700,000
3. Housing Assistance for Families Impacted by Gun Violence $500,000
Expand Wellness Centers (free, confidential school health & support services) to 2400 students in 4 to 6 high-need alternative high schools & middle schools, including county community & continuation schools. $1,200,000
TOTAL BUDGET AGENDA $10,000,000
For a more detailed copy of the budget agenda, go to www.colemanadvocates.orgFiled under: Archive