Budget surplus will fund violence prevention programs
By Aldrich M. Tan
April 13, 2006
The Budget and Finance Committee passed an ordinance to appropriate
$6.3 mil. from the budget surplus to fund violence prevention
The committee passed the ordinance with an additional motion
to put certain funding going to the Mayor' Office of Economic
and Workforce Development and the Department of Children, Youth
and their Families in reserves until further information could
be developed about where the funding would directly go to.
Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi stepped out of the chambers briefly
to clarify the news to members of the San Francisco Organizing
Project about the ordinance's passing and the added motion.
"We want to make sure that we're not throwing out money
that will end up ineffective," Mirkarimi said.
Loud cheering echoed through the hallway outside the council
Sharen Hewitt, executive leader of the Community Leadership Academy
and Emergency Response Project, emphasized the growing urgency
of the situation to pass the ordinance.
"Six people have died in the streets since I last spoke
to the committee," Hewitt said. "This is a life or death
Supervisor Sean Elsbernd said he was concerned about whether
or not performance standards will be in place. Allan Nance, director
of Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice, said such measures are
not currently in place but they will be.
"We fully anticipate that the funds that we make to community-based
organizations will include performance measures," Nance said.
"We certainly expect to be front and center on that dialogue."
The committee passed the ordinance after requesting to hold $931,327
of funds going to the DCYF, which would go to the Community Outreach
and Street Level Intervention program, and $1.3 mil. for programs
in the Mayor's Office of Economic and Workforce Development, deputy
controller Monica Zmuda said.
Minister Regnaldo Woods, director of the "Up From Darkness"
program and SFOP member, said he was extremely excited about the
ordinance's passing. He applauded the Budget and Finance Commission
for its continuing support and discussion of the issue.
"The commission has been an outstanding and has asked careful
and tough questions in the process," Woods said.
Woods said that community organizations face a new challenge
- finding a means to allocate the money to focus on young adults
at highest risk of being victims of violence.
"We will lose over again if we don't look at this specific
age block," Woods said.
The ordinance's passing means funding for the Visitacion Valley
Violence Prevention Youth Council, an organization that provides
non-violent options for high school and at-risk youth in the area.
"Our mission is to provide a voice for all youth but we
need money in order to run our council," said Markeda Cottonham,
15, from the City Arts and Technology High School.
Cottonham and her friends Chea Sayon, 16, and Sayisha Warr, 16,
said that the council will need over $2,000 to fund a variety
of outreach programs including a college tour, a talent show,
and the organization's second annual summer jam.
Programs such as the Youth Council will prevent at-risk youth
from becoming victims of violence on the street, said Joyanna
Wendt, a fourth year student at the University of California,
"I've seen enough gunshot wounds on kids," Wendt said.
"These programs encourage youth to become leaders so they
don't become patients at the San Francisco General Hospital."