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‘We Are Out of the Woods’: Breed Focuses on Pandemic Recovery in New SF Budget

San Francisco Mayor London Breed unveiled her $25.9 billion budget proposal for the next two years – $13.1 billion for FY 2021-22 and $12.8 billion for FY 2022-23 – on Tuesday before a crowd in Chinatown.

The mayor’s financial strategy focuses on accelerating the city’s economic recovery from COVID-19 while supporting response efforts to the pandemic. She also stressed the importance of maintaining the city’s reserves.

“We are out of the woods,” said Breed. “But one thing we learned over the last year, we never know what lies ahead.”

Breed used the same expression to describe pandemic risk levels in the city.

“I can finally declare with pride and confidence that we are literally out of the woods,” she said. “But keep your mask on.”

Breed said she plans to spend around $477 million over the next two years on pandemic-related efforts.

Among those initiatives are food security programs, small business support, backfilling the loss of hotel tax revenue for the arts and addressing student learning loss with a focus on communities in the city that have been hit hardest by the pandemic.

New or expanded initiatives include an income pilot program for transgender people, and a “community ambassadors” program to provide assistance to people in need in downtown San Francisco, including the mid-Market corridor and waterfront areas.

“These are ambassadors who are watching our blocks, making calls for services for those who are struggling, giving directions to those who are lost, offering a friendly face to those who are in need,” Breed said.

Breed’s proposed budget also includes major investments in affordable housing, mental health services and public safety, notably the creation of an Office of Justice Innovation aimed at preventing violence, supporting victims and exploring alternative responses to non-criminal activity.

“The new Office of Justice Innovation that will coordinate the city’s response to victims across all communities, including targeted support for the API community,” Breed said.

The mayor’s budget also seeks to address homelessness by expanding the work started through the city’s Homelessness Recovery Plan to create housing for 6,000 unhoused people. The proposed budget will next go to the Board of Supervisors.

“The decisions we make in this budget will have huge consequences for the future of our city, perhaps unlike any before us,” said District 6 supervisor Matt Haney, who also chairs the city’s budget and appropriations committee. “We have the opportunity to shape the future of San Francisco right now.”

Chloe Veltman

Copyright 2021 KQED