Report: Millions spent on city’s violence prevention efforts but programs remain uncoordinated 

click to enlarge Community members march in the Bayview on Thursday evening in response to a recent rash of violence. A budget and legislative analyst's report has found that despite an increase in funding over the past four years toward violence prevention programs in The City, violent crime is on the rise. - MIKE KOOZMIN/THE S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner file photo
  • Community members march in the Bayview on Thursday evening in response to a recent rash of violence. A budget and legislative analyst's report has found that despite an increase in funding over the past four years toward violence prevention programs in The City, violent crime is on the rise.

Despite increased spending on violence prevention in San Francisco over the past four years, violent crime has been on the rise and The City's efforts to stem it remain uncoordinated, misdirected and opaque.

This is according to a review of The City's violence prevention programs released Jan. 13 by the budget and legislative analyst, and may be of interest to San Franciscans due to last month's spike in homicides as well as the discovery of human remains in and around a suitcase in South of Market.

According to the analysis, during the past five years city spending on such programs has jumped by 23 percent from $38.5 million in fiscal year 2010-11 to $47.3 million in the current fiscal year. Seventy percent of those funds, most of which come from the general fund, are spent on youth violence intervention programs.

Still, despite the amount of money spent, violent crime has increased from 677 incidents per 100,000 residents to 850 crimes per 100,000, said the report.

Over that five-year period, from the second half of 2010 into the first half of this year, The City will have spent a total of $208 million on anti-violence programs.

But the report noted that those funds were divided up among nine departments not including the police, and those programs had little coordination along with many different ways to assess the programs' success. Additionally, the analysis noted that none of the myriad programs even have a common definition for violence prevention.

Examples of the variety of such programs include the mayor's Interrupt, Predict and Organize program for youth employment; an umbrella of programs through the Department of Public Health; the district attorney's Alternative Sentencing Program; and juvenile probation.

"Despite $47.3 million spent on violence prevention in the current fiscal year," the analysis noted, "there is no citywide strategy plan to prioritize funding, no needs assessment process in place to identify citywide gaps in violence prevention programming and, no citywide understanding of the effectiveness of violence prevention programs."

The report concluded that the Board of Supervisors, which hasn't been briefed on crime intervention efforts since February 2013, has no single avenue for knowing what is occurring across The City's many departments when it comes to violence prevention.

The review pointed to Oakland's consolidated violence-prevention model as a place to look for aid in reorganizing San Francisco's patchwork of programs.

"There's no accountability," District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen said about The City's violence-prevention efforts.

Cohen, who requested the analysis last year, said no one knows where exactly all the money was spent or how much of it reached the people who need it instead of non-profits.

"The problem is this," Cohen aide Mawuli Tugbenyoh said. "Last year, The City spent $47.5 or nearly 50 million citywide but we don't actually have the hard figure for the amount spent in Bayview."

The majority of that money, Tugbenyoh added, has been and is being spent in the Mission and SoMa. That means that the Bayview, Sunnydale and the Western Addition are not getting the resources they need to end violence, Tugbenyoh said.

Meanwhile, Cohen has requested an update on the report and for a clarification on the actual money being spent in her district.

Department distribution

Spending on violence prevention by city departments in 2013-14:

Adult probation: $75,460

City administrator: $583,409

Department of Children Youth and Families: $15,717,698

District attorney: $1,801,864

Human services: $2,308,388

Public defender: $643,070

Public health: $17,401,746

Sheriff: $2,261,118

Status of Women: $4,403,988

Note: Roughly $10 million of the total spending on such programs comes from state and federal dollars

Source: Budget and legislative analyst

About The Author

Jonah Owen Lamb

Jonah Owen Lamb

Bio:
Born and raised on a houseboat in Sausalito, Lamb has written for newspapers in New York City, Utah and the San Joaquin Valley. He was most recently an editor at the San Luis Obispo Tribune for nearly three years. He has written for The S.F. Examiner since 2013 and covers criminal justice and planning.
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