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Guest Opinion: Let's get to work in District 6

by Matt Haney

Matt Haney spoke to supporters before the election. Photo: Rick Gerharter
Matt Haney spoke to supporters before the election. Photo: Rick Gerharter  

Last week, I was honored to be elected as the next supervisor for District 6, representing the Tenderloin, South of Market, Mission Bay, South Beach, Rincon Hill, and Treasure Island. I am proud to have won in every neighborhood and every precinct across our diverse district. Thank you so much to District 6 residents and voters for your support and trust.

Throughout the course of the campaign, I committed to D6 residents to be laser-focused, block-by-block, on the day-to-day challenges facing our neighborhoods: street homelessness, dirty streets and sidewalks, open air drug use and dealing, vacant storefronts, a failing public transportation system, and skyrocketing rents.

I've spent my entire career in public service here in San Francisco — as school board president, a housing rights attorney, and criminal justice advocate. I ran for supervisor because I believe that our city still has what it takes — the values, commitment, resources, and creativity — to effectively tackle our toughest challenges.

There is no doubt that our city's biggest failure and shame is street homelessness. We continue to abandon people to live on our streets, including people who are sick or mentally ill. It's not right for them, and it's hurting our neighborhoods, residents, and small businesses. District 6 is bearing the brunt of this crisis, and it is completely unacceptable.

After this election, there is finally some hope on the horizon: With the passage of Proposition C, I will fight to quickly expand Navigation Centers, provide more streamlined mental health services and beds, and move to immediately get people off the streets and into housing. We also need to double down on homeless outreach services; right now, it is too often only the police that are our front line responders to homelessness. This is both wrong and ineffective.

It is critical that we adopt services that acknowledge the needs and protect the safety of the 40 percent of homeless people who are LGBTQ. We urgently need an LGBTQ-serving Navigation Center and an end to out-of-date models for shelters rooted in turn of the century religious organizations.

On the school board, I was a strong and vocal ally to the LGBTQ community. I secured funding for the nation's first high school LGBTQ studies class and expanded our LGBTQ inclusive curriculum. I authored a policy to ensure access to gender inclusive restrooms, ended outdated, discriminatory dress code policies, and expanded sexual health education and services.

I plan to bring this same vocal allyship to the Board of Supervisors. SOMA and the Tenderloin both have large LGBTQ communities and long histories as hubs for LGBTQ culture, arts, and nightlife. I'll fight for legacy protection for LGBTQ venues and businesses. I'll fully fund and support our two LGBTQ cultural districts, the LGBTQ and Leather Cultural District, and the Compton's Transgender District. And I'll fight for stronger rent control and more affordable housing for the LGBTQ community.

District 6 also has one of the largest populations of people living with HIV in the country. The D6 supervisor must take the lead to fight for resources and ensure that San Francisco becomes the first major city to have no new HIV infections. I believe that PrEP needs to be free and easily available to any men who have sex with men or at-risk individual who wants it. As supervisor, I'll focus on lowering the barrier to entry to health care by working to make points of entry to services as simple and unbureaucratic as possible.

San Francisco is one of the most progressive, wealthy, creative cities in the world; but when thousands of our neighbors are living without housing, our sidewalks are filthy, and economic inequality and rent continue to move rapidly in the wrong direction, we know we are not meeting our full potential.

I do not believe we can solve our toughest problems if we continue to recycle the same political divisions of the past. With all the dysfunction and hatred coming out of Washington, D.C., San Francisco has a responsibility to demonstrate that there is another way. We have to show our own residents that we can model governance that is compassionate, inclusive, and effective.

As supervisor, I will work with anyone who will help my district get clean, safe streets and build more affordable housing. And I will stand up to anyone who is trying to underserve or take advantage of this community and its people. My commitment to you is to be a strong ally to the LGBTQ community, be accessible and responsive, and tackle our toughest problems head-on.

Let's get to work.

Matt Haney is the supervisor-elect for District 6.

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