Proposition O - Providing Services and Payments to Homeless Individuals

Voter Guide
This measure appeared on the November 2002 San Francisco ballot.


What it does

Prop O was developed by Supervisor Ammiano as an alternative to Supervisor Newsom's Care Not Cash Proposal (Prop N).


Those who support the proposition state:

  • Exits From Homelessness could strengthen Care Not Cash, rather than compete with it, by ensuring that enough supportive housing and treatment is available.


Those who oppose the proposition state:

  • Exits From Homelessness is intended to weaken Care Not Cash by instituting a set of conditions and exemptions.
  • The measure fails to find the money that would put teeth into its "requirements" to provide housing and drug treatment.

SPUR's analysis

Prop O contains 6 major provisions:

  1. The leading provision of Exits from Homelessness would require the Department of Public Health and Department of Human Services to develop 1,000 units of supportive housing. This number comes from a proposal developed by the two departments in April of 2002, which included costs, proposed locations, and unit types. Currently, there are approximately 860 units of supportive housing which DPH administers through a master lease program. 1,000 additional supportive housing units would cost around $8 or $9 million a year. Prop O would not provide additional money for this new housing, but its proponents hope that in future years it would prod the Mayor and Board of Supervisors to allocate money for new supportive housing units through the normal budget process. In addition, Prop O would direct existing sources of affordable housing to be used specifically for supportive housing.
  2. It would require the Department of Public Health to develop drug and alcohol treatment programs for 700 people annually. (Current waitlists are approximately 1,000 people.) These treatment slots could include methadone maintenance, out-patient drug and alcohol treatment, and at least 75 drug and alcohol treatment beds in supportive housing environments. Again, there is no additional funding included, but the intent is to get the voters on record to encourage future budget processes to allocate money for this program.
  3. It puts conditions on the way Care Not Cash would be implemented:
  • Prior to implementation of Care Not Cash, the Controller would be required to certify that the DHS has adequate housing or shelter available.
  • Housing provided in lieu of cash is defined so that a bed in a shelter would not be considered "housing." If the City failed to offer housing before a homeless person spent 180 consecutive days in a shelter, then the recipient would return to cash assistance and receive a one-time housing allowance of about $1,100.
  • GA benefits would be continued for individuals who presented a rent receipt. But city officials would be prohibited from verifying rent receipts with a landlord without the recipient's consent.
  • Pregnant women, families, and seniors would be exempt from Care Not Cash.
  • Prop O would establish a set of limits as to when homeless people can be kicked out of shelters for violating the rules.

4. Overall, Care Not Cash (Prop N) would leave a lot of flexibility to DPH and DHS to administer the CAAP (county adult assistance program) program. Prop O would lock more provisions in place, which could not be changed without a subsequent vote of the people.

5. Prop O would require DHS and DHS to submit plans and budgets each year to the Mayor and Board of Supervisors for the programs necessary to reduce wait-lists for housing and supportive services.

6. The measure recommends "baseline" (minimum) funding levels for supportive housing equal to the amount spent on shelter and aid payments to homeless CAAP recipients in 2002-2003, adjusted for inflation.

Some of the provisions in this measure are well-intentioned, especially the importance of adding supportive housing units. However, this measure fails to find new funding sources or new efficiencies within city government that would pay for these supportive housing units.

SPUR recommends a "No" vote on Proposition O.