SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) Homelessness, housing, crime and transportation in San Francisco were among several key topics touched upon during Mayor London Breed's State of the City address Wednesday, her first since being elected into office in June.
Speaking at the new National LGBTQ Center for the Arts at 170 Valencia St., Breed conceded that while the city is struggling with a housing shortage and homelessness crisis, progress has been made since she's taken office.
"Of course we acknowledge the challenges we face. The question is what do we do next? Hang our head and give up? Concede our problems are too great and the soul of our city is lost? Anyone who thinks that's what we'll do knows nothing about our city," she said.
Within the last six months, the city has added three Navigation Centers, providing 338 beds for homeless individuals, "the fastest expansion we've seen in decades," Breed said.
She said by next year, she hopes to add 1,000 more beds, enough to clear the shelter bed waitlist. Additionally, she said $185 million in tax windfall money can be used to add even more beds and create hundreds more housing units for homeless seniors and adults.
But Breed said providing shelter is just one aspect of fixing the city's homeless crisis.
"We have to revamp our entire approach to mental health," she said, then announced she's created a new position within the city, Director of Mental Health Reform.
"This person will be responsible for better coordination of mental health care for those suffering in our city. This person will strengthen the programs that are working and yes, cut the ineffective programs because clearly there are things in this city that just aren't working and shouldn't continue to be funded," she said.
Breed also announced she has hired Dr. Grant Colfax to be the city's newest Director of Public Health. Colfax, a former Obama White House Director of National AIDS Policy, will replace former Director Barbara Garcia, who resigned in August.
"He knows our city and its challenges and he is ready to get to work. And he knows that we need to get to zero HIV infections in San Francisco. We need to reach our most vulnerable populations, particularly our African American and Latino communities, who are not seeing their HIV infection rates drop as others do," she said.
As for the city's housing shortage, Breed said announced a charter amendment for this November's election to create affordable housing and housing for teachers.
"If an affordable housing or teacher housing project is proposed within zoning, then build it and build it now. No more bureaucracy. No more costly appeals, no more 'not in my neighborhood,'" she said.
Additionally, Breed said she's working with Supervisor Aaron Peskin to get the city's CleanPowerSF program off the ground to provide the city with 100 percent renewable energy by 2030 in light of PG&E filing for bankruptcy this week.
In order to tackle congestion on the city's streets, Breed said she's supporting an upcoming measure with Supervisor Aaron Peskin to charge ride-hailing service companies to help ease traffic, as well as supporting Vision Zero street safety projects.
"We also have to break these gridlocks on our streets," she said.