San Francisco voters will decide in November whether to tax large businesses to pay for homeless and housing services, an issue that set off a battle in another West Coast city struggling with income inequality.
The city elections department verified Monday that supporters had collected enough signatures to get the measure on the ballot. It would raise about $300 million a year — doubling what San Francisco spends on homelessness — for more shelter beds and housing for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming so.
The money would come from an average half-percent tax increase on companies' revenue above $50 million each year.
Homelessness is a major problem in San Francisco, as well as other cities on the West Coast with growing numbers of high-paying tech jobs that price lower-income residents out of a shrinking housing supply. San Francisco's new mayor, London Breed, vowed to clear the streets of its tent camps within a year of taking office.
"I think the city is really ready for this," said Christin Evans, a San Francisco small-business owner and one of three petitioners on the measure. "We have a lot of momentum behind us, and more than a majority of the voting population is renters. We're polling very well."