More than 200 San Francisco city, nonprofit workers and their clients took over the steps of San Francisco City Hall on Tuesday to fight against cuts to safety net services that include homelessness prevention, HIV/AIDS health services and mental health services.
There are 50 nonprofits that are being threatened with closures or severe underfunding that would leave thousands of San Francisco residents without the critical health care they need. While the city controller says there is a $96 million surplus, the Department of Public Health is proposing cuts to its budget that would result in a $25 million loss in nonprofit services for the city’s most vulnerable, low-income and disenfranchised residents.
About a dozen speakers from members of the Board of Supervisors to union and nonprofit leaders spoke, including Local 1021 member leader Karen Joubert, San Francisco Labor Council Executive Director Tim Paulson and Irma Nunez from the Coalition on Homeless.
“This year, we have a surplus. The choices we have as a city about how we balance our budget is vastly different than in the past,” said Supervisor John Avalos. “The city has more money to move around, and we shouldn’t be cutting these vital services that people are depending on.”
The low-income elderly, the developmentally disabled, HIV/AIDS patients as well as children and families depend on these 49 nonprofits — in danger of losing some or all funding — to provide them with health and social service programs.
As the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provisions go into effect, safety net service providers will play an even larger role to the increasing number of patients who need preventative care. Yet the city is undercutting the goals of the ACA by underfunding or cutting funds completely from these programs.
These nonprofit programs and services proposed for cuts actually strengthen the safety net to help prevent the chronically ill from returning to Emergency Rooms, costing the community more money, and creating a wider service gap for the rich and poor.