In these tough economic times, local and state budgets are being slashed to the bone. In this case, the city of San Francisco is no different.
The sad thing is that human services and education are the first to have their budgets cut. Hopefully, San Francisco will find the money to restore the funding to help Transgender people find employment and assist those with HIV/AIDS find affordable housing.
These are not easy decisions to make with so many lives being affected.
Newsom budget cuts trans, AIDS services
by Seth Hemmelgarn
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom unveiled a budget proposal Tuesday, June 1 that leaves out funding for a program that helps transgender people find jobs, and cuts housing subsidies for people living with HIV/AIDS.
The Transgender Economic Empowerment Initiative, which started about three years ago, has helped more than 125 transgender people gain employment, according to program officials.
But Trent Rhorer, executive director of the Human Services Agency, said the mayor's proposal doesn't include funding for the initiative. According to Rhorer, the contracts for the transgender initiative are pegged at $270,498.
"This came down to a lot of difficult choices in the last few days for closing the deficit," said Rhorer.
The proposed $6.48 billion budget for fiscal year 2010-2011 closes a projected city deficit of $482.7 million.
Rhorer said he and others are working with Supervisor Bevan Dufty, a longtime supporter of the initiative, and they are aware "that this is a priority for the community and [we] look forward to working with the board in trying to find solutions."
Dufty said he's working with Newsom's office on restoring funding.
He said Newsom is "very aware" of the initiative and its importance, "and I'm confident we'll get the funds restored. I certainly wish that clients and the community would not be worried about this continuation, but I feel between the board and the mayor, there'll be a commitment, and hopefully we can get this resolved quickly."
The Human Services Agency had proposed cutting the funding after the mayor's office told the agency in April to identify $12.6 million in reductions, but the city's Human Services Commission later rejected the cut.
The initiative is a collaborative effort that includes the Transgender Law Center, the San Francisco LGBT Community Center, and Jewish Vocational Services.
On Tuesday, before the mayor released his budget proposal publicly, Rebecca Rolfe, the community center's executive director, said that she and others had been told that funding for the initiative would be included in the mayor's budget. She did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday morning. Masen Davis, the Transgender Law Center's executive director, is out of town and also did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday morning.
As he unveiled his budget at the Luggage Store Art Gallery on Market Street Tuesday, Newsom said there was "some question about equalizing housing subsidies" for people with HIV/AIDS that could be debated.
Asked about the subject after the mayor's press conference, Dr. Mitchell Katz, director of the public health department, explained that the proposal was for people with HIV/AIDS to pay a third of their income, the same percentage that people in other subsidized programs put forward, rather than the 20 percent they currently pay.
"Under the circumstances of a horrible budget, if that's as bad as it gets, that's not too bad," said Katz.
In a phone interview Wednesday, Dufty said his understanding was that the mayor's proposal includes a cut of about 10 percent in AIDS housing, representing between $500,000 and $550,000 in the city budget.
Dufty noted the reduction also was an issue last year, but he indicated the board had added the funding back to the budget.
"It will be high on the priority list for restoration," said Dufty, who was on the board's budget and finance committee last year. He pointed out that this year, Supervisor David Campos is on that committee, and he said he'll work with Campos to get the funding restored again.
Campos didn't respond to an e-mail request for comment Wednesday morning.
According to Dufty, part of the problem facing Newsom is that housing can no longer be funded through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Modernization Act.
Tony Winnicker, Newsom's communications director, said, "We had to make some tough choices in this budget. Given the magnitude of the deficit, there were a number of program cuts and reductions," that Newsom wants to work with the board on "to look at what could be restored."
Winnicker said the mayor's staff understands "the positive impact that the employment program has had on many people, and certainly Supervisor Dufty has been in the mayor's office to make sure we understand that."
He also said, "The reason we have a budget process is so the mayor and the Board of Supervisors can work to protect vital services and programs," adding, "the budget is a snapshot. It's not a final product."
Winnicker declined to comment specifically on the HIV/AIDS subsidies.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Posted by De Sube at 6/03/2010 07:48:00 AM