• Tue. Nov 29th, 2022

Proposal C — Homelessness Monitoring Commission

ByChad J. Johnson

Oct 13, 2022

Check out our November 2022 SF Election guide for a nonpartisan analysis of measures and contests on the ballot in San Francisco for the November 8, 2022 election. Voters will consider the following proposition in this election.


Proposal C is a proposed charter amendment that would create the Homelessness Oversight Commission to oversee the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing. The charter is the city’s constitution and can only be changed by a majority of voters in an election approving an amendment. This measure requires more than 50% of affirmative votes to be adopted.

In 2016, former Mayor Ed Lee created the department to lead all housing and social services for homeless San Franciscans, including street outreach, homeless shelters, transitional housing, and permanent supportive housing. The Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing is the eighth largest city services department with an expenditure budget of approximately $672 million for the 2022-23 fiscal year and $636 million for the financial year 2023-24. The department is not subject to the direct control of a municipal commission.

The idea of ​​an oversight committee has been on the table for years. The ballot measure to establish it was drafted in 2019 in partnership with the Homeless Emergency Service Providers Association, which represents 30 homeless service providers, as well as supervisors Gordon Mar, Aaron Peskin, Hillary Ronen and Shamann Walton.

“The Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing has less oversight, less accountability, and less transparency over its budget, strategy, and policies than almost any other major city department,” Matt Haney wrote. , in an editorial when he was a board member. supervisors before being elected to the state assembly.

On July 19, 2022, the Supervisory Board approved the placement of the measure in the November ballot, with no votes against. It was co-sponsored by supervisors Ahsha Safai, Shamann Walton, Aaron Peskin, Rafael Mandelman, Gordon Mar and Catherine Stefani.

Supervisor Safaí was one of seven board members to oppose the measure in 2019, amid strong opposition from Mayor London Breed and fears the proposal would add more bureaucracy. But a public press report in partnership with ProPublica found the city had more than 800 permanent supportive housing units vacant each month for a year, while twice as many people approved for those homes await assignments, many living in tents on the street. A recent San Francisco Chronicle investigation that highlighted poor conditions across much of the supportive housing stock has fueled public discourse, calling for greater accountability in homeless services.

If Proposal C is accepted, the duties of the Homeless Watch Commission are as follows:

  • Formulate, evaluate and define homelessness policies.
  • Serve as a public forum to raise accountability issues and advocate for fair policies.
  • Investigate any aspect of government operations within its jurisdiction.
  • Nominate candidates for the position of head of department to the mayor and remove a head of department – currently only the mayor has this authority.
  • Approve goals, objectives, plans, service programs, and departmental budgets before the board of oversight casts a final vote.

In addition, before May 1, 2023, three amendments to the charter of the administration codes of these committees will allow the Commission to:

  • Appoint all members of the local Homeless Coordinating Council, which serves as the governing body for the continuum of care, which coordinates housing and federal funding for homeless services. The council advises the department on homelessness policy and budget allocations, but its advice is not binding. The council will advise the commission on the city’s participation in the Continuum of Care program.
  • Receive advice and recommendations from the Shelter Monitoring Committee, which tracks group shelter conditions in San Francisco, and staff document and investigate complaints.
  • Receive advice and recommendations from the Our Town, Our Home Oversight Committee, which advises the Mayor and Board of Overseers on the administration of the Our Town, Our Home Fund.

Proposal C would also specify that homeless services are subject to audit by the municipal comptroller.

But the commission would not have the authority to approve, disapprove or change the criteria used to determine eligibility or priority for programs and services administered through the city’s coordinated entry system. An investigation by Public Press and ProPublica found that the system marks trauma and could prevent some homeless populations from getting inside.

The Commission will be composed of seven members. The first appointments will be made by March 1, 2023, with four appointed by the mayor and three appointed by the board of oversight.

Initial opposition to Proposal C stemmed from a debate over seat appointments.

“A commission majority appointed by the mayor would not offer real control and would be indistinguishable from HSH’s current control structure, which reports directly to the mayor,” the San Francisco Berniecrats wrote in a letter.

After three drafts of the proposal, changes were made to balance buy-in and auditing by the city comptroller. The Mayor and Board of Supervisors will each appoint one person who has personally experienced homelessness and one person with significant experience providing services or advocating for homeless people.

In addition, the Board of Supervisors should appoint a person with significant experience working with homeless families and youth. And the mayor will be required to appoint someone with expertise in mental health service delivery or addiction treatment, and someone with experience in budgeting, finance and auditing. One of the mayor’s appointees would be required to have a record of membership in a merchant or small business association, or a neighborhood association.