San Fran­cisco backs ‘home­less tax’

Big cor­po­ra­tions to fund hous­ing for 5,000 peo­ple

Global Times US Edition - - WORLD -

San Fran­cisco vot­ers backed a tax on the city’s wealth­i­est com­pa­nies to tackle home­less­ness, pass­ing a mea­sure that di­vided the tech com­mu­nity.

A tally posted Wed­nes­day showed that 60 per­cent of vot­ers in the city home to Airbnb, Uber, Sales­force, and Twit­ter cast bal­lots in fa­vor of Propo­si­tion C, a lo­cal bal­lot mea­sure brought about by a 28,000 sig­na­ture pe­ti­tion this sum­mer.

De­signed to rake in $250 to $300 mil­lion per year, the Robin Hood-es­que mea­sure will tax cor­po­ra­tions mak­ing more than $50 mil­lion to fund hous­ing for 5,000 peo­ple and fi­nance men­tal health and hous­ing aid ser­vices, ac­cord­ing to its back­ers.

A num­ber of San Fran­cisco’s tech bosses – in­clud­ing Twit­ter chief Jack Dorsey and Pa­trick Col­li­son of pay­ment startup Stripe – re­sisted the pro­posal.

But bil­lion­aire Marc Be­nioff, head of cloud com­put­ing firm Sales­force, pumped mil­lions of dol­lars into the “Yes On C” cam­paign.

Be­nioff was quoted prior to the elec­tion as lament­ing that a lot of bil­lion­aires in the thriv­ing San Fran­cisco area on the edge of Sil­i­con Val­ley are “just hoard­ing” their wealth.

“Prop C’s vic­tory means the home­less will have a home and the help they truly need!” Be­nioff tweeted.

Dorsey, who sparred with Be­nioff over the is­sue on Twit­ter, called for “long-term so­lu­tions” – “not quick acts to make us feel good for one mo­ment in time.”

Ac­cord­ing to the city coun­cil, which op­posed the mea­sure, some 7,500 peo­ple sleep out­side ev­ery night in San Fran­cisco.

Lo­cal ser­vices see 20,000 dif­fer­ent home­less peo­ple each year – and the city says it is spend­ing $250 mil­lion a year on fight­ing the hous­ing cri­sis.

Many in San Fran­cisco’s home­less pop­u­la­tion suf­fer from men­tal and phys­i­cal ill­nesses, and live among garbage and drug para­pher­na­lia.

For San Fran­cisco na­tives, the tech boom has wors­ened a hous­ing cri­sis as real es­tate prices soared: $3,000 a month will get you a pokey stu­dio, and un­less you have at least $1 mil­lion to spend, you can wave good­bye to buy­ing.

Home­less­ness and high real es­tate prices are press­ing is­sues up and down the US West Coast.

Other Cal­i­for­nian cities such as nearby San Jose – lo­cated near home bases of tech be­he­moths Ap­ple, Face­book and Google – are also plagued by as­tro­nomic real es­tate prices and home­less crises of their own.

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