Adopted by the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club
July 10, 2017
We believe that good health and access to health services should not just be reserved for those who can afford it. Access to nutritious food, healthcare, and behavioral health services are all necessary for a healthy community, especially for the LGBTQ community, which has historically had disproportionately poorer health outcomes.
It is the position of Alice that:
- California should implement a “Single Payer” health care system, which would eliminate health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses for medical care and medicine, thereby guaranteeing universal access to health care. Alice believes health care is a right, not a privilege, and any system that favors those who can afford to pay for health care over those who cannot is unjust and contrary to our values. Alice supports measures to provide adequate and feasible funding for a single payer system.
- San Francisco should establish safe injection sites in high-need areas, which provide an alternative to injecting drugs unsupervised – and possibly overdosing – and reduce the risk of needle sharing and spreading diseases, such as HIV and Hepatitis C, in the process. Injection sites should also provide, though not require, individuals access to treatment and social services to address their needs.
- San Francisco and California should continue to support efforts at getting to zero new HIV infections, zero HIV deaths, zero HIV stigma, and efforts toward a cure by supporting existing programs, as well as continued PrEP expansion, RAPID ART, and retention in HIV care. In 2015, San Francisco had 15,995 individuals living with HIV, but also saw 255 new HIV infections and 197 HIV-related deaths. Existing programs have been successful in preventing and treating HIV. However, more work must be done to get to zero.
- San Francisco should continue to operate and expand the Pit Stop Program to provide 24/7 public toilets, sinks, showers, used-needle receptacles, and dog waste stations. San Francisco has implemented and operated this program since 2014. This program ensures individuals are able to use the bathroom and have access to other hygiene services in a more dignified and safe manner.
- San Francisco should provide enough psychiatric bed space for those who are severely mentally ill living in the city and who require hospitalization. Alice believes it is our responsibility to care for those who cannot care for themselves, which includes those struggling with severe mental illness. The city currently has only about 400 beds available in hospital settings, but thousands of people living on the streets who likely require hospitalization or acute care stays of varying length. People identified at hospitals needing mental health treatment often wait two to seven days for a hospital bed. Approximately half of those who are chronically homeless in San Francisco have a history of mental illnesses, and a third of those admitted to hospitals for mental illness are homeless. Hospitals within the city, including existing and future medical centers with inpatient care, should be required to accommodate mental health bed space as determined by the city to meet the need.
- California and San Francisco should provide enough transitional housing beds outside of the hospital setting for individuals living with mental illness who need supportive services to remain safely in the community. There is a dearth of resources for individuals who do not require hospitalization but who need transitional housing tailored to individuals living with mental illness.
- California should mandate all state and local forms that require a gender or sex designation include a third gender option. Transgender and intersex Californians who identify as a gender other than either male or female should not be forced to choose one in required government documents. All state, county, and municipal governments should be required to have a third gender or non-binary option.
We believe in a ‘Housing First’ approach to homelessness. While there are often many needs that homeless individuals must address in the long term, we believe that housing is a prerequisite to being able to address almost all others needs. Everybody deserves safe, decent, and affordable housing. Families and individuals currently or at risk of experiencing homelessness also need access to resources and support. The continuum of resources and services available to homeless populations ought to be accessible, easy to navigate, and responsive to individual and local needs.
It is the position of Alice that:
- San Francisco should not enact laws that function to criminalize or penalize behavior or conduct engaged in by individuals as a result of living without a home. Individuals who are without a place to live must conduct daily living activities outside, such as eating and sleeping. Increasingly these activities are being penalized by communities across the country. Homeless individuals are also unable to pay tickets received for quality of life offenses. These tickets then become warrants, which can result in arrest and incarceration, hindering someone’s ability to obtain housing or become employed. Criminal convictions, even for minor nonviolent offenses, can create long-lasting barriers to social integration and economic security. Even in cases where there is no criminal prosecution, the penalty for noncompliance with laws outlawing their behavior is punitive and inconsistent with Alice’s values.
- San Francisco should increase programs that help homeless individuals transition to housing, including increasing available shelter beds, and creating navigation centers in every supervisorial district. Currently, there are over 1,000 people on the 90-day shelter waitlist, which is not an adequate supply for the need. Not providing emergency assistance to those in crisis is inconsistent with Alice’s values. One way to ensure more availability of shelter beds is to increase the availability of transitional housing for those presently in a shelter.
- San Francisco and California should fund supportive services to persons living without a home, including food, financial assistance, medical and mental health services, and employment and vocational opportunities. However, participation in these services shall not be a prerequisite for receiving housing assistance. While getting people into housing should be primary policy objective, supportive services aimed at helping individuals are necessary to address issues that can impair the ability to stay housed.
- San Francisco and California should provide homeless individuals and families with housing subsidies, including rental assistance, rental subsidies, utility payments, and housing relocation. It is more cost effective to provide homeless prevention to families and individuals currently housed but at risk of homelessness than it is to provide homeless assistance and eventually medical and other services to families and individuals who become homeless. Programs like Direct Access to Housing (DAH), which supports over 1,700 formerly homeless people in the city with rental subsidies, has not been adequately funded for over 3 years. Like in DAH, individuals should have access to voluntary on-site services and case management, which prevent a relapse into homelessness. Participation in other supportive services, such as mental health or substance abuse programs, should not be a prerequisite to having access to housing assistance.
- San Francisco should increase the number of youth-appropriate housing available to meet the need for transitional age LGBTQ youth, including emergency, transitional, and permanent supportive housing. Emergency shelter is an important first step off the street for homeless youth and provides for initial stabilization. However a lack of longer-term housing options often results in a cycle of homelessness and shelter stays as youth try to find stable housing. One way to decrease the over-reliance on shelters is to increase the availability of transitional housing. Transitional housing programs are appropriate for youth as it provides for longer stays in housing coupled with support services to address issues that are barriers to independence and self-sufficiency.
The criminal justice system should focus on reducing crime and factors known to increase crime. The system should also prioritize enforcement of crimes that unfairly exploit and target marginalized communities, instead of selectively enforcing laws against marginalized communities. The criminal justice system should work to connect individuals to aspects of society that support them in expanding lawful opportunities and freedom once their sentence is served. The justice system should be free of racial, religious, national origin, gender (including identity and expression), socioeconomic, and LGBTQ bias.
It is the position of Alice that:
- Agencies involved in any aspect of the criminal justice system should improve the gathering, maintaining, and sharing of accurate demographic data, including gender, race, and sexual orientation data. Presently, not all such agencies keep or share statistics that track demographic information of individuals in contact with law enforcement agencies, referred for criminal charges by law enforcement agencies, or otherwise involved with the criminal justice system. Relatedly, the information gathered by local law enforcement agencies is limited and therefore restricts the ability of stakeholders to evaluate whether disparities in charging decisions based on race, gender, or sexual orientation exist.
- California peace officer training must train officers to work with, and in, the community in a manner that prioritizes community outreach and policing, including foot patrols, and halts increased militarization. Militarized training programs result in officers viewing community members as the enemy and does not foster positive relationships. Police training should focus on de-escalation and developing positive relationships with the community.
- Local law enforcement agencies should not collaborate with federal immigration authorities by deputizing local officers to carry out federal immigration enforcement. Such forms of collaboration jeopardize communities’ trust with local law enforcement, making it less likely immigrants and their families will report crimes.
- California should prohibit introducing an individual’s immigration status at a preliminary hearing or trial unless, after an off the record hearing, a court determines it is admissible. It has been reported that actors within the criminal justice system seek to use the immigration status of defendants and victims for a variety of reasons, including discouraging witnesses from coming forward to testify and strengthening the government’s case against an individual defendant. Alice believes that a person’s immigration status should not be publicly disclosed in the context of the prosecution or defense in a criminal case, unless already deemed admissible by the court.
- California should end the use of money bail. Community safety and flight risk, as determined by an immediate risk assessment, should be the factors that determines if someone stays incarcerated. In many jurisdictions people who are arrested for crimes have two options: pay a posted bail amount based on the charges, or wait up to several days to see a judge to ask for a lower bail. There is no assessment of risk. In many jurisdictions bail bond companies charge 10% of the bail amount for a bond – meaning even if you are innocent, you forfeit the 10%. Even though many defendants get a bail hearing, bail often remains set at unaffordable levels. If you cannot afford to pay, you wait in jail until trial, which, in some cases could take months or years. Using ability to pay, rather than community risk as the determining factor, disproportionately impacts low-income individuals and families, communities of color, and the LGBTQ community.
- California should reform the criminal codes by reclassifying felonies that are not considered violent or serious to misdemeanors or infractions (e.g., possession of schedule I narcotics). People convicted of felony crimes are denied employment and housing opportunities that most people take for granted. Ensuring that only the most serious and violent crimes come with such grave consequences will allow for better integration into society by those charged with such crimes by addressing the root of the offending behavior and preventing a loss of employment and social integration.
- California should reform the criminal codes by reclassifying thousands of low-level misdemeanors to infractions. Too many forms of conduct have been deemed to be misdemeanors, which presently exposes individuals to the risk of incarceration. People convicted of crimes, even low-level misdemeanors, such as public intoxication, are denied employment and housing opportunities that most people take for granted.
- California should divert individuals charged with misdemeanors from the criminal justice system, and instead assess their needs and provide them services and training which will prevent a repeat of the behavior. (Services may include mental health treatment, drug and alcohol treatment, anger management, community service, restorative justice, and other alternatives to incarceration and prosecution.) The criminal justice system overemphasizes costly and ineffective means of punishing individuals instead of promoting interventions that will reduce recidivism. This will allow for better integration into society by those charged with such crimes by addressing the root of the offending behavior and preventing a loss of employment and social integration.
- California should mandate that local jails only be for people whom, after a risk assessment, could not safely be released and are awaiting trial or have been convicted and sentenced. Jails have to be reserved for individuals who are unable to be released because of a risk assessment that deems them too risky to public safety or too much of a flight risk.
San Francisco is facing a monumental crisis of affordable housing availability. Alice believes that reasonable access to safe, stable, and affordable housing is a basic human right, as well as a critical component to a truly livable, equitable, and sustainable twenty-first century city. Our city’s policies must work flexibly and smartly to balance support of housing market forces with the protection of our residents, to ensure that not only the LGBTQ community, but all San Franciscans, have access to affordable housing. Alice’s positions on housing attempt to balance the immediate crisis with long-term problem solving, and existing residents’ stability with future residents’ housing affordability. We believe a balanced approach not only will genuinely move San Francisco forward on this monumental challenge, but is morally required.
It is the position of Alice that:
- San Francisco must preserve and protect its rent-controlled housing units. Rent-controlled housing is the bulk of our existing affordable housing, making it essential to retaining residents in stable housing. We support the expansion of programs like the Small Site Acquisition Program as well as eviction prevention services; the public purchase of SRO buildings; legislative efforts to curb fraudulent owner move-ins, renter intimidation, and reforming the Ellis Act; the enforcement of short-term rental regulations; and, an extension on the moratorium on condo conversion and the strengthening of regulations regarding the elimination of rent-controlled units. These efforts, both locally and at the state level, help to stabilize our affordable housing stock by preventing the removal of these critical units.
- California should expand rent control across the state. Given that the affordable housing crisis has now spread throughout the state, rent control can no longer be seen as a luxury. It must be expanded to all California cities and cover more units, without delineating between units built before or after a certain date. Alice believes San Francisco must continue to be a refuge, in particular for the LGBT community, and therefore supports efforts to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act and efforts locally to work within existing regulations to produce additional rent-controlled units.
- San Francisco must prioritize the production of affordable housing units. Alice believes that the production of market-rate housing units is critical to long-term affordability of the city and a vital source of affordable units, but that we must balance this approach by prioritizing affordable housing production. Alice supports financially feasible expansion to the city’s inclusionary program as well creative expansions of non-profit affordable housing production; the removal of barriers to entitlement specifically for affordable and middle-income housing; and, the use of underutilized public land for the production of affordable and middle-income units. Alice also strongly supports the citywide distribution of increased density paired with neighborhood infrastructure (e.g., transit, open space) improvements; and, the creative use of smart urban planning to deliver affordable housing units (i.e., BMR and rent-controlled units), such as the city’s work with accessory dwelling units (i.e., legalization, Home-SF) or alterations to existing zoning/codes to deliver additional units. Alice believes we can not build our way out of our immediate crisis, but we must also build for a future to meet the escalating population demand. We must build in a way that balances these intentions.
- California should expand the availability of funding for affordable housing development, improvements to existing affordable housing, and housing subsidies. Specifically, tax expenditures related to housing or real property that disproportionately benefit high income individuals and families should be eliminated and the resultant savings diverted to the development of affordable housing and rental subsidies.The State of California must investigate means to increase revenue, as well as backfill potential federal budget cuts aimed at eliminating the Housing Trust Fund. These sources are vital at the local level to deliver affordable housing units.
- San Francisco must prioritize housing its most vulnerable populations in stable and adequate housing. San Francisco has a responsibility to house its most vulnerable, including the elderly and families, HIV-positive and disabled residents, and the lowest-income and homeless San Franciscans. Alice supports projects like 55 Laguna, efforts such as HOPE-SF and RAD, efforts aimed at homeless navigation to services and transitional housing, and down-payment assistance programs allowing low income families to purchase a home. Stable housing has long been proven to be not only a means of elevation but critical to survival.
- San Francisco must build for its missing (and shrinking) middle. Alice supports efforts to build middle-income housing, so long as that production is not at the expense of low and very low-income residents. Alice supports efforts to house our city’s teachers; additional requirements for middle-income housing on development where financially feasible; adjustments to zoning that would produce middle-income targeted (i.e., non-luxury) housing unit production; and, state and federal efforts to fund middle income housing production. Our workers and families are the heart of our city and should be able to live here; we must build for them too.
- San Francisco must reach beyond its borders to solve this crisis. San Francisco’s housing affordability crisis is part of a larger statewide and regional crisis, and we must work with our neighboring cities, counties, and state leaders to invest (e.g., political will) in the idea of true regional planning with the weight of law. Often many Bay Area cities operate with such extreme housing-jobs imbalances (i.e., RHNA) that desirable locations like San Francisco are crushed with new residents. Currently there is little recourse for the city to advance solutions at the regional scale to solve this. This is something Alice believes must change.
- San Francisco must be the visionary leader in housing affordability. Alice supports ideas such as the formation of a San Francisco municipal bank able to fund non-profit housing development, neighborhood-based development and anti-gentrification planning, and an increased role of government in housing broadly as ways to begin making progress on this crisis through addressing long-standing structural challenges. Alice also supports a penalty on units withheld from the housing market beyond a reasonable amount of time. Many of the challenges to delivering affordable housing units and equity are tied up in broadly-reaching economic trends; work aimed at facing those trends is the most sustainable approach to solving this crisis in the long-term.