SF budget adds $5.4M for LGBTQ needs

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Thursday July 20, 2023
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Supervisor Rafael Mandelman was able to secure funds in the city budget for LGBTQ programs in the Castro and other parts of the city. Photo: Cynthia Laird<br>
Supervisor Rafael Mandelman was able to secure funds in the city budget for LGBTQ programs in the Castro and other parts of the city. Photo: Cynthia Laird

The two-year budget San Francisco leaders have crafted includes funding for various LGBTQ needs, from beefing up security at nonprofits to assisting the local transgender community through an array of programs. Mayor London Breed signed the balanced budget July 26.

The $14.6 billion budgets adopted 10-1 by the Board of Supervisors at its July 18 meeting cover fiscal years 2023-2024 and 2024-2025 and addressed a nearly $800 million deficit over that time frame. According to the office of gay District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, a member of the board's budget committee this year, there is roughly $5.4 million in special allocations for LGBTQ programs.

"My colleagues generally recognized the need for these services. A lot of cuts included in the mayor's budget had needed to get back filled," said Mandelman, who noted that numerous programs "that had been going, some for a number of years, have always been funded by add backs, and we were able to find add backs to keep them going."

Mandelman's office included in its LGBTQ funding total several budget asks made by HIV service providers, who had rallied in the spring at City Hall to press their case. However, not all of the $7 million in funding they had requested was appropriated. (See related story.)

"These are tough budget times; a lot of things are on the chopping block," noted gay District 4 Supervisor Joel Engardio, who was elected to his first term last year. "Every group or organization that was in jeopardy had a very compelling case to not lose funding."

In casting his first votes for a city budget, Engardio told the Bay Area Reporter he viewed the funding designated for both HIV services and LGBTQ needs as benefiting all San Franciscans, and thus, worth supporting as the board and Mayor London Breed worked to deliver a balanced budget plan.

"One could argue serving the LGBTQ community, and certainly those affected by HIV and AIDS, cuts across all groups," said Engardio. "Something I believe is by ensuring that we fund programs for the LGBTQ community, we are helping people across the spectrum of humanity. I looked at it that way and felt it needs to be a priority because you are helping so many people who are LGBTQ in every walk of life."

One new area of funding that Breed had included in her budget proposal is $350,000 for LGBTQ nonprofits to improve the safety measures at their offices due to an increase in threats some have received of late. The Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development is expected to issue a request for proposals from agencies wishing to receive some of the funds.

The mayor also directed $110,000 toward instruction and support group facilitation for the Lift Up SF Program, administered by San Francisco HIV Health Services, according to Mandelman's office. There is $200,000 for wellness services for formerly incarcerated transgender individuals, plus $150,000 to pay for asylum immigration legal services for TGNC immigrants.

A set aside of $75,000 will go toward transgender and gender-nonbinary Asian and Pacific Islander leadership development, while a violence prevention program for monolingual, immigrant transgender Latinas will see $67,000 in city funding.

The supervisors allocated $400,000 toward enhancing information and referral services offered by LGBTQ agencies, in addition to community building and cultural programs. Another $200,000 will go toward the operations and sustainability of the LGBTQ museum operated in the Castro neighborhood by the GLBT Historical Society.

In other cultural funding, the budget includes $100,000 for year-round arts programs, events, arts education, artist commissions, and artist services focused on the transgender and gender-nonconforming community, plus $75,000 for the city's trans film festival. The San Francisco Unified School District is set to receive $100,000 for theater and health education for students in grades K-8.

Additionally, Mandelman secured $250,000 to fund community events in the Castro, which he represents at City Hall, and $30,000 for the annual Queer Transgender Asian Pacific Islander (QTAPI) Week held in late May and early June.

"I feel like we did pretty well given the circumstances," said Mandelman. "There were very worthwhile programs that didn't get funding or funds for only one year, so we will have to fight for them next year. Given the budget deficit we were facing, this could have been a lot worse."

Updated, 7/26/23: This article has been updated to indicate Mayor Breed has signed the budget.

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