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Right here’s how a lot San Francisco has spent for homeless companies

Though city leaders have budgeted well over half a billion dollars from Proposition C, so far, the city has doled out about $155 million, or 26% of the nearly $600 million. The Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing said the remaining funds have been earmarked for spending on various programs in the current fiscal year and next.

That means the city is still far from realizing the full scope of the ballot measure, which authorized a gross receipts tax on companies with more than $50 million in annual revenue. Prop. C passed with more than 60% of the vote in November 2018 but was challenged by a lawsuit until the California Supreme Court allowed it to move forward in September 2020.

Prop. C is expected to generate $250 million to $300 million per year, and advocates say it could be the boost the city needs to finally make a big dent in the homeless crisis, but there’s also debate about how to spend it for maximum impact.

California election results

Some funds from the proposition had been rolled out by the time San Francisco recently recorded a 3.5% decline in its homeless population. But city officials believe the measure is likely to have a much greater effect in future years.

“We are just beginning to see the impacts of Prop. C in the lives of people experiencing homelessness and the broader community,” Denny Machuca-Grebe, a spokesman for the homeless department, said in an email.

The city’s latest point-in-time count of its unhoused residents, released this month, tallied 7,754 people, down from 8,035 in 2019. The number of people who were unsheltered — meaning they were living in tents or cars — declined by 15%.

Machuca-Grebe said the reduction in unsheltered homelessness reflected a 1,000-bed shelter expansion sought by Mayor London Breed years ago, as well as the city’s program to move unhoused people into hotels during the pandemic and an expansion of permanent supportive housing that largely predated Prop C. Some of the money for the shelter expansion came from Prop. C, but the city also drew from its general fund and used money from the state, according to city officials.

“It’s correct to say that we’re just scratching the surface of the promise of Prop. C,” said Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness. “I think Prop. C has had an impact, and we’re gonna see a much more dramatic impact coming up.”

Still, Friedenbach said the ballot measure has already delivered much-needed housing for homeless people: Prop. C money helped the city buy the Granada Hotel and Hotel Diva to turn them into supportive housing.

The first time the city made Prop. C funds available was in December 2020, when the Board of Supervisors released $49.3 million to the homeless department, but supervisors held back $232 million pending input from an advisory group and review of a spending plan, Machuca- Grebe said. Those remaining funds were released by the board in June 2021, he said.

Prop. C is far from the only money San Francisco spends on the crisis — it’s in addition to other investments from both the health and homeless departments.

JD Morris is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: jd.morris@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @thejdmorris

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