SF budget contains $17M for LGBTQ needs

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday July 6, 2022
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Gay Supervisors Matt Dorsey. Photo: Rick Gerharter; <br><br>
Gay Supervisors Matt Dorsey. Photo: Rick Gerharter;

San Francisco's two-year fiscal budget set to be approved by the Board of Supervisors this month includes more than $17 million for various LGBTQ needs, from funding services for transgender individuals and people living with HIV to monetary support for the city's Pride committee and queer arts organizations.

The funding includes the $6.5 million to end trans homelessness and $6 million for HIV prevention service providers spread over the next two years that Mayor London Breed had included in the budget proposal she sent to the supervisors in June. There is also $35,000 the mayor allocated to launch a drag laureate position for the city, as the Bay Area Reporter first reported last month.

Also included is the $300,000 that the mayor had sought for the new organ being installed in the Castro Theatre. The supervisors allocated $100,000 for a Black, Indigenous, people of color trans and queer arts residency and performance event to be housed at the queer-led African American Art & Culture Complex that Queer Rebel Productions had sought.

The board also added into the budget $100,000 sought by Fresh Meat Productions for its transgender/gender-nonconforming (TGNC) dance and performance festival. It also allocated $20,000 in rental assistance for LGBTQ live performance nonprofits in the Castro that was requested by Theatre Rhinoceros.

The committee that puts on the city's annual Pride festival was earmarked $300,000 by the supervisors to help it recover from having to mothball its in-person parade and celebration the last two years due to the COVID pandemic. It was able to host a live event last month for the first time since 2019.

The supervisors also set aside $275,000 sought by the SF LGBT Community Center for various community building activities with a special focus on BIPOC and non-cisgender individuals. They also allocated $225,000 toward mental health services for LGBTQ seniors requested by the nonprofit Openhouse and $200,000 for LGBTQ historical research/exhibits capacity building sought by the GLBT Historical Society.

Case management services centering Black TGNC communities with a history of incarceration will be funded at $750,000, per a request made by the TGI Justice Project that the supervisors added to the budget. They also allocated $475,000 for legal services and other programs for TGNC immigrants and asylum seekers sought by Parivar Bay Area, El/La Para TransLatinas, and the LGBT Asylum Project.

The board also allocated $350,000 toward hiring more employees for a TGNC housing program called the Bobbie Jean Baker House so it is staffed on a 24-hour basis. St. James Infirmary had sought the funding for the 18-room, three-floor transitional housing program.

There is $1 million split over the two fiscal years for housing subsidies for people living with HIV or AIDS that the HIV/AIDS Provider Network had sought as part of its budget request this year. It also secured $300,000 for housing subsidies for seniors and adults with disabilities, plus $200,000 in funding in each of the two fiscal years for expanded mental health services for long-term survivors of HIV and AIDS.

"I could be happier," said AIDS Legal Referral Panel Executive Director Bill Hirsh, who co-chairs the city's provider network, about the city's proposed budget.

Nonetheless, Hirsh said he was pleased that the mayor had included the $3 million per fiscal year for HIV service providers as it will help avoid "significant layoffs" at the agencies facing funding decrease due to a change in how the city's health department is awarding contracts this year.

"I am pretty happy about that," said Hirsh.

He added that the city will not see its federal HIV prevention funding cut this year, currently at about $15 million. Thus, the supervisors and mayor avoided having to backfill any reduction in its Ryan White Federal CARE grant with local dollars.

The HIV provider network is trying to determine if its member agencies that receive Ryan White funding will be eligible for a pot of money the supervisors set aside to help service providers recoup their increased costs of doing business, Hirsh told the B.A.R. It had sought $500,000 in the city's budget specifically for HIV service providers to use for that purpose.

Gay District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman told the B.A.R. it was "unfortunate" the supervisors could not allocate the funding this year, as the problem of service providers facing rising costs due to inflation and other reasons isn't going away.

"It is a real issue. The general cost of doing business increases for nonprofits," said Mandelman. "It is unfortunate we weren't unable to find money for that this year, and over time, that becomes a real problem for these nonprofits."

Gay Supervisor Rafael Mandelman. Photo: Ricardo De Melo Matos  

Some budget wins
Overall, there are "definitely some good wins in the budget," Mandelman said.

In particular, he noted, "There are a lot of investments in the most vulnerable people in the community, with a real focus in trans folks in the mayor's budget and the board's budge too. I think that was also really good."

Mandelman also secured $341,000 for various street activations and LGBTQ events held in the Castro and other neighborhoods he represents like Noe Valley and Cole Valley. Some of the funding will be used to pay for porta potties at Mission Dolores Park during Pride Weekend next June.

"We have some money to do some cool things in the Castro around film festivals and throughout the district like tree planting, garden installations, things like that," he said. "There is also some support for the arts in here and some support for performance nonprofits. I feel pretty good about that."

Mandelman had worked with newly appointed gay District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey in seeking the funding for the various LGBTQ needs. After the paper's press deadline Wednesday, Dorsey told the B.A.R. he was pleased with how much of the funding request from the HIV providers they were able to include in the budget.

"Coming in as an openly HIV-positive supervisor, it was a priority for me," said Dorsey, noting that his appointment to the board in May meant he had come "relatively late to the process, so I am grateful for Supervisor Mandelman and the mayor and their commitment to that. We were largely able to get the HIV funding the community was seeking."

The supervisors are expected to pass the budget by July 19. Breed has until August 1 to sign the budget for fiscal years 2022-2023 and 2023-2024.

Hirsh told the B.A.R. that in addition to the two gay board members, Breed and District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who is serving as the board's budget chair this year, should be applauded for addressing the needs of the city's HIV providers in the budget compromise they reached in late June.

"We really want to acknowledge the work of supervisors Dorsey and Mandelman, and we certainly want to acknowledge the mayor's office for her support for this. It was huge," said Hirsh. "Supervisor Ronen also did a great job in a tough year. There was a lot more money in the add back process this year than in most, and it is difficult to balance all the competing needs."

UPDATED 7/6/2022with comment from Supervisor Matt Dorsey.

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