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San Francisco community organizations worried budget cuts could impact crucial services

San Francisco community groups rally at city hall to speak out against proposed budget cuts
San Francisco community groups rally at city hall to speak out against proposed budget cuts 03:43

SAN FRANCISCO — As San Francisco city leaders work to balance their budget, some community organizations are worried housing assistance could take a hit.

The current proposed budget cuts would impact many public and nonprofit service organizations, cutting their budgets by 10 percent.

So, on Wednesday afternoon, The People's Budget Coalition gathered 40 groups that provide housing, food, and jobs to San Francisco residents for a rally outside City Hall.

They are asking leaders to continue to work on the budget and not cut from housing-related organizations. They want to see the city's budget increase critical services for the city's most vulnerable, like Dexi Marina Baptista.

She's an immigrant who doesn't speak English and moved to the U.S. for a better life for herself and her children.

"I'm here for resources because I live in a hotel with my children, and they don't have room to play," Marina Baptista said, with the help of an interpreter. "We all share a bathroom."

They also don't have a kitchen, and the family of five shares just one room. They live near 9th and Market streets, and only her husband works.

"It's very difficult because if they want to go out, there's always violence in the streets," Marina Baptista said, talking about her children.

The Budget Coalition said parts of the "Emergency Rental Assistance Program" could experience budget cuts up to 50%. That would impact building code enforcement, housing subsidies and childcare programs.

Maria Zamudio helped put on the rally. She is the director of the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco. It's a community-based organization that helps tenants understand their rights and responsibilities. 

They also help tenants with their landlords before involving the city. She said, in that way, the organization saves the city money.

"The tenants that we're working with, they are telling us that there is trash in their buildings, there are cockroaches, there are mice, mold, there are drafts, there are leaks. And without our programs, these issues would only get worse," she said.

She said the city's budget for her organization is projecting a 15% cut. That won't just impact the people who use their services but also her staff.

"It's two people," Zamundio said. "Two people who are nonprofit workers here in San Francisco who care about tenants who don't deserve to have their livelihood threatened because the city is deciding to balance the budget on the back of our programs."

After the rally, many people went inside city hall to speak at the board of supervisors budget and appropriations committee meeting including Marina Baptista.

"Sometimes my kids will say to me 'Mom, one day we're going to have a bigger space so we can do homework, a bigger space so we can play'," Marina Baptista said.

No action was taken at Wednesday's meeting, there will be more meetings before the budget is finalized.

Mayor London Breed's Office said they are still working on the budget.

"We are in the process of finalizing the Mayor's budget proposal which is due by June 1st," the Mayor's Office said. "No final decisions have been made, but the reality is that with a significant deficit, there are going to be hard decisions we have to make. This will not be an easy budget, but the Mayor is committed to delivering basic city services and critical programs that keep this city moving forward."

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