$125M of City's Budget to Help Struggling San Francisco Businesses, Residents

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City leaders on Wednesday announced $125 million in surplus funds from the current year's budget will be used to help small businesses, arts and culture organizations and vulnerable residents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the new spending plan, announced jointly by Mayor London Breed and Budget Chair of the Board of Supervisors Matt Haney, the funds will be divvied up to support a plethora of programs and business fee deferrals and waivers, among other initiatives aimed at aiding in the city's economic recovery.

The extra $125 million is the result of higher-than-expected property tax revenue.

The spending plan was approved unanimously at Wednesday's Budget and Appropriations Committee. The proposal is next headed to the Board of Supervisors for a full vote.

Part of the plan calls for $24.8 million to fund a Small Business Grant and Loan Program, which includes $3 million to support the city's entertainment venues; $2.3 million to strengthen the Shared Spaces program; and $1 million for small businesses that have been victims of property crime.

Also, $24.1 million of the surplus will be used to replace lost hotel tax funds that would have been used to support arts and cultural programs.

In addition, $10.5 million will go toward affordable housing projects; $10.5 million will help supplement city and state rent relief funding for tenants facing eviction; $13.2 million will support the deferral of business registration fees and license payments for businesses; $15 million for business registration fee waivers; and $15 million for youth learning programs.

"One year ago today we went into a Shelter in Place that, while saving lives, has impacted our city like nothing I've ever seen," Breed said in a statement. "We've had small businesses close, our students have been out of the classrooms for over a year, and people are worried about how they are going to pay rent. People continue to struggle with housing security and addiction, and our arts and culture sector, which is part of what makes San Francisco so unique, is suffering. While we are working towards our long-term recovery, we know we need this immediate support that will help get our city back on its feet."

"This spending plan will direct resources and support to the people most impacted during this crisis, including small businesses, families, tenants, artists, and vulnerable residents," Haney said. "This package will keep small businesses open, fight the opioid epidemic, support our kids and families, and ensure tenants can stay in their homes. It is crucial that the surplus funds be put directly into the pockets of our residents and small businesses that are suffering and address our most urgent priorities for recovery."

Haney added, "The upcoming budget cycle will be among the most important in our city's history and we are committed to working together to help our city recover and build back better."

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