Compromise scuttles San Francisco’s Care Not Cash homeless measure 

The political fight that erupted over San Francisco’s Care Not Cash homeless program has ended after its would-be reformers backed down following a compromise that will change The City’s shelter system.

Details of the compromise were released Thursday in a statement from Mayor Ed Lee, who thanked supervisors Jane Kim, Ross Mirkarimi and Eric Mar for withdrawing their proposed reform measure from the November ballot.

San Francisco recipients of General Assistance aid typically receive $422 a month, but under Care Not Cash they only get $59 if they receive a bed in a homeless shelter. The proposed ballot measure would have removed that provision.

Instead, the shelter system will be changed to reduce the number of underused beds set aside by two other city programs. Critics of Care Not Cash say some shelter beds set aside for its participants go unused, while other more vulnerable homeless persons — such as seniors, veterans or disabled people — are unable to find shelter for the night.

Under the compromise, 24 new beds will be dedicated this fall to the general homeless population. The City will also improve monitoring and enforcing the 5:30 p.m. release time for unclaimed shelter beds.

“This solution reached will move The City toward the same goal without having to go through a costly ballot measure campaign,” Lee said in a statement Thursday.

The Coalition on Homelessness has criticized Kim’s decision to withdraw the proposed ballot measure less than 30 days after it was submitted.

But critics of her measure, including several mayoral candidates, said it would only put more money in the hands of the homeless and move The City backward by attracting more of them.

Kim said her effort was never about undermining the Care Not Cash program, but instead sought to fix a problem in The City’s shelter system.

“My intent in sponsoring the ballot measure was to increase access to our shelter care system,” Kim said. “This is a step in that direction. Going forward, I’m committed to exploring more solutions to this problem.”

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