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Regional Interests

Latino Community Leaders Advocate for Larger Share of SF Budget After a Year of COVID-19 Disparities

Latino community advocates have gotten a commitment for more money from the city’s budget to help the Latinx community recover from the pandemic with support from key members of the Board of Supervisors’ budget committee.

But it’s not a done deal just yet. The public is set to comment on San Francisco’s proposed budget Wednesday, with negotiations between the board and Mayor London Breed expected to continue at least through Monday.

Community advocates argue that amid San Francisco’s $13-billion spending proposal, more of that should reflect that the city’s Latino community, which was hit hard by COVID-19, — not just by infections and deaths, but with job loss and strains on cultural institutions.

At the 24th Street BART station on Tuesday, community leaders joined Supervisor Matt Haney, chair of the Board of Supervisors Budget & Appropriations Committee,  and Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who also serves on the committee, to announce a plan to allocate nearly $5 million of the city’s budget to address Latinx community needs.

Jaime Aragon, chair of the San Francisco Latino Parity & Equity Coalition, said the help was sorely needed.

“We’re getting this public commitment from the supervisors saying that they see us, they hear us, they have us on the radar and they’re willing to fight for us,” Aragon said.

The Latino community represents over 40% of case rates in San Francisco and 20% of COVID deaths, according to the supervisors.

“This was a community that already experienced incredible challenges as it relates to equity,” Haney said. “One of the higher poverty rates I went to, higher rates of unemployment, just a tremendous need for investment from our budget. And all of that was exacerbated during this pandemic.”

If the funding is approved by the budget committee and through negotiations with Mayor Breed, it will be used to address hunger, help small businesses, support a 24-hour hotline for immigrants and support for arts and culture groups.

Breed announced $28 million in expanded COVID-19 support for the city’s Latino community in September last year, including funding for housing, food access and small businesses.

— Scott Shafer 

Copyright 2021 KQED