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SF Mayor Breed Unveils Plan for Reinvesting $120 Million From Police Into Black Communities

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San Francisco Mayor London Breed speaks during a press conference on March 16, 2020, at City Hall as San Francisco Police Chief William Scott looks on. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

San Francisco Mayor London Breed on Thursday announced a plan for how the city will spend $120 million over the next two years, pulled from law enforcement budgets, to reinvest in the city's long-underserved Black communities.

"The Dream Keeper Initiative," as it's dubbed, increases investments in workforce development, health campaigns, youth and cultural programs and housing support. The allocations reflect spending priorities conveyed by Black residents during a series of community meetings and public surveys led last year by the city’s Human Rights Commission, Breed said.

"It was important that we took the conversation to the community and we got feedback on what was most important," Breed said on KQED's Forum Thursday.

"I want to change the outcome of African Americans in the city who are disproportionately impacted in the criminal justice system, disproportionately impacted by homelessness and a number of other disparities, even in our public school system. And I wanted to make sure that these investments were going to make a difference."

Of the $60 million slated to be spent this fiscal year, through September, nearly $14 million will go toward workforce training and development programs, including small business support and efforts to increase Black employment in city agencies. Another roughly $15 million will be used to support community health and wellness initiatives, and about $10 million will go toward housing security, including a push to increase Black homeownership.

Among the other large expenditures: roughly $7 million to fund a guaranteed income program, $6.6 million for community outreach and social work initiatives and nearly $6 million for youth development and arts and culture programs.

Specific details on most of the new programs set to be be launched under the initiative are still in the works, said Sarah Owens, a spokeswoman for the mayor's office.

"It's a complex process with a lot of moving pieces. More information will be coming," she said.

That includes the guaranteed income program, of which no information was yet available.

The $120 million in funding, Owens noted, will go to a combination of new and existing programs, mostly based in historically Black communities in the city, including Bayview-Hunters Point, the Western Addition and the Tenderloin. One such program, she said, is intended to connect some 400 Black children and their families to case management services.

"Really, the vision of the Dream Keeper Initiative is helping the full range — from children to their parents to their grandparents — and really providing holistic comprehensive services," she said.

The impact of the first round of investments will inform how the remaining $60 million will be spent next year, according to the mayor's office.

"So this is what we got from the community and these are the investments that we want to make now into the community," Breed said. "And we want to measure those investments to see if the outcomes of African Americans change as a result of these types of investments."

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Black people make up only about 5% of San Francisco’s population — a proportion that has consistently decreased in the last 50 years — but make up nearly 40% of its homeless residents. Black residents have among the city’s highest mortality rates and lowest median household incomes, and are involved in a disproportionately high percentage of police use-of-force incidents.

"I grew up in poverty. I've had to live in poverty over 20 years of my life. And the frustration that came from living like that and then seeing so many of my friends who had been killed or in jail or on drugs — that is my motivation," Breed said. "Because just imagine if we can change the outcome of African Americans in San Francisco. What an incredible thriving city we truly will be."

The spending plan comes nearly seven months after Breed and Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton floated the idea as part of the mayor's nearly $14 billion budget proposal for this fiscal year — a version of which was passed by supervisors in September. Breed has billed the city's transfer of funds from law enforcement agencies as a necessary reparation for city policies that she says led to “decades of disinvestment” in Black communities.

“This initial investment to improve outcomes for the Black community and overturn years of disinvestment and inequitable resource distribution is just the first step in righting the wrongs of history,” Walton said in a statement. “We now have to continue to prioritize communities that have never had a chance to build true wealth and this is a first step towards true reparations for the Black community here in San Francisco."


Funding for the initiative comes from roughly $80 million in cuts, over two years, from the San Francisco Police Department, reducing its nearly $700 million annual budget by almost 6%. The remaining $40 million is from Sheriff's Department cuts.

The move is in large part a response to the huge, prolonged demonstrations — in San Francisco and around the world — following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, and amid growing calls to shift resources away from law enforcement. In June, Breed also directed the Police Department to no longer respond to noncriminal complaints and to revise its accountability practices and stop using military-grade equipment.

When first announced last summer, the heads of both of law enforcement departments expressed initial, if measured, support for the cuts, most of which would come from not filling vacant positions and reducing overtime expenditures.

“We knew there would be pain and sacrifice associated with these budget cuts, but we also know they're necessary to fulfill the promise of Mayor Breed's and Sup. Walton's reinvestment initiative to support racial equality,” San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said in a statement in July. “While the cuts are significant, they are cuts we can absorb and that will not diminish our ability to provide essential services."


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