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    Enough Is Enough: Vote Prop C

    By Dr. Marcy Adelman–

    After doing some errands one Saturday afternoon in mid-August of last year, I turned on to San Bruno Avenue from Division and had to jam on the breaks. A naked woman stood in the middle of the street, jumping and gesticulating as if acting out some kind of ancient ritual. She was clearly out of her mind or on drugs, or both.

    Homeless men stood in front of tents and shopping carts filled with their belongings, silently watching. My first instinct was to get out of the car to help her, but I didn’t feel safe to do that. I also knew that I couldn’t leave her there alone. So, I pulled over the car, called the police and told them that I would stay until the woman was safe and taken care of.

    After what seemed like an excruciatingly long time, a police car arrived 10 minutes later. Two police officers stepped out of the car and very slowly and carefully approached the woman, who still stood in the middle of the street. I was so intent on watching them that I didn’t notice that many of the homeless men who had been witnessing the scene had disappeared.

    Two more police cars pulled up. When the fire engine arrived, a woman firefighter stepped out with a blanket and covered the woman (now sitting on the curb), and stayed close to her until an ambulance arrived to take the woman to the hospital.

    This is just one of countless stories I could share with you. There are just too many heartbreaking stories of people working hard in low wage jobs who aren’t able to pay their rent and who have no safety net to keep them from winding up living on the streets. There are too many stories of vulnerable seniors and families evicted from their housing. Too many stories of people severely challenged with mental health and or substance abuse issues who have no one to help them, no place to live and no ability to stabilize their lives.

    We have always known that it would take housing and services to solve the homeless crisis. But we have been told it is just too expensive or too complex to fix. And yes, homelessness is a regional and statewide crisis. But now, the time is up on waiting for someone else to find a solution to this humanitarian and health crisis right here in our own back yard. No more band aids, no more wringing of hands, no more waiting.

    Prop C is a measure on the November ballot that is a bold, local initiative. If passed, Prop C would levy a small tax of .5% on major corporations with annual incomes above 50 million dollars. Estimated to raise over $300 million dollars annually in funding, the measure assures that: half of those funds will construct 4,000 affordable homes for low income San Franciscans; one-quarter of the funds will pay for mental health and substance abuse treatment; and the remaining funds will go to 1,000 new shelter beds, more public restrooms, and homelessness prevention measures such as rent subsidies and legal assistance for low income and disabled residents.

    One of the criticisms of Prop C is that it will drive corporations out of San Francisco in search of lower taxes. That claim, however, was rejected by the San Francisco Office of Economic Analysis (OEA) after an impact review that determined that the proposed tax would have a negligible impact on city business.
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    According to Brian Basinger, Executive Director of Q Foundation, a San Francisco non-profit that provides rental subsidies to low-income seniors and adults with disabilities, “Prop C is crafted by experts to scale. We know what to do; we just need to do more of it. Regional and state solutions can work in tandem with local initiatives; it isn’t an either or solution.”

    Enough is enough. Vote Prop C.

    Dr. Marcy Adelman oversees the Aging in Community column. She is a psychologist and LGBTQI longevity advocate and policy advisor. She serves on the California Commission on Aging, the Board of the Alzheimer’s Association of Northern California and Northern Nevada and the San Francisco Dignity Fund Oversight and Advisory Committee.