SAN FRANCISCO—Mayor London Breed delivered her first State of the City Address on Wednesday, January 30. During the speech, Mayor Breed revealed a ballot measure to streamline the creation of new affordable and teacher housing, the creation of 4,000 new placements for unhoused residents and named Dr. Grant Colfax as the new Director of the Department of Public Health.
The speech was delivered at the new National LGBTQ Center for the Arts, which serves as the first permanent headquarters of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. According to a press release from Mayor Breed’s Office, Mayor Breed will pursue a charter amendment that would streamline all affordable and teacher housing projects by making their approval as-of-right, which will pair with her support for an upcoming $300 million bond to fund the development of affordable housing. The charter amendment proposed for the November 2019 election, would allow 100 percent affordable and teacher housing proposals that comply with existing zoning laws to bypass the usual bureaucratic and appeals process that could lead to long and costly delays.
“We have to break the barriers to building housing so our dollars go farther and we get housing built faster,” said Mayor Breed. “No more bureaucracy. No more costly appeals. No more ‘not in my neighborhood.’ It is simple: affordable housing as-of-right because housing affordability is a right.”
Mayor Breed plans to open 1,000 new shelter beds by creating 4,000 total placements for homeless individuals in the next four years. It is estimated that there are roughly 4,000 unsheltered people in San Francisco each night. To help attain this goal, Mayor Breed called for her proposal of $185 million of the recently announced windfall to be spent on homelessness, behavioral health, and affordable housing.
“With this investment we can add 310 new shelter beds; 300 units of housing by master-leasing units, freeing up hundreds of beds in our shelter system; complete funding for a 255-unit building for formerly-homeless seniors and adults; and get started on hundreds of more units,” said Mayor Breed. “Now I know there are other budget priorities, and they are important. But let’s be clear—every dollar we take away from what I have proposed is one fewer bed. One lost home. One more person on the street.”
Dr. Colfax is a national leader on HIV Prevention and was trained at UCSF and serves as Director of Marin County Health and Human Services. He last worked at DPH as Director of HIV Prevention and Research before leaving to join the Obama White House Adminsitration, as the Director of National AIDS Policy.
“I look forward to rejoining the Department of Public Health team and working with the City’s diverse communities to ensure all San Franciscans have the opportunity to optimize their health,” said Dr. Colfax. “This work will require effectively addressing the health challenges facing the City, as reflected in Mayor Breed’s priorities. This includes improving mental health and substance use treatment services, addressing the medical needs of people experiencing or at risk for homelessness, and reducing health inequities. With the Department’s history of innovative public health initiatives, community-driven programming, and superb clinical care system, I am optimistic about what can be achieved.”
Mayor Breed indicated that addressing behavioral health issues in San Francisco is priority for her. She called for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to pass conservatorship legislation that she is authoring with Supervisor Rafael Mandelman to help individuals suffering from severe mental health and addiction issues on the streets. Mayor Breed announced that she is creating the position of Director of Mental Health Reform, which will require revamping and overseeing San Francisco’s entire approach to mental health.
Mayor Breed announced her support for an upcoming measure with Supervisor Aaron Peskin to charge ride-hail companies to help relieve congestion on the streets of San Francisco. She re-iterated her support for advancing street safety and Vision Zero projects, including building protected bike lanes on the city’s high-injury corridors.
Written By Casey Jacobs