San Francisco may be best known for its poo and needle-covered streets (requiring six-figure 'poop patrollers'), but the liberal stronghold - driven into the ground under decades of Democrat leadership - is about to experiment with yet another 'fix' for its self-inflicted wounds...
...Using taxpayer money to pay criminals not to shoot people.
In October, San Francisco will begin offering high-risk individuals $300 per month not to shoot anyone, or get shot themselves, according to the San Francisco Examiner. What's more, participants can earn up to $200 more per month by hitting program milestones - such as landing a job interview, complying with probation, or consistently meeting with a mentor, according to the report.
Known as the "Dream Keeper Fellowship" (a.k.a. Cash for Criminals), "The initiative will pair participants with newly hired life coaches from the Street Violence Intervention Program, known as SVIP, who will help the them make the right choices and access services."
"We know that $500 in San Francisco is not a significant amount of money," said Sheryl Davis, a proponent of the program and executive director of the Human Rights Commission. "But if it’s enough to get you in to talk to folks, and be able to make a plan for your life, then that’s huge."
This isn’t the first time a city has tried to reduce gun violence by offering cash. A similar anti-violence program in Oakland, for instance, offers young adults up to $300 for achieving milestones. What’s new is San Francisco would start people off with a baseline of $300 a month without having to meet any marks.
The program is modeled, in part, after the nationally watched Operation Peacemaker Fellowship in Richmond, which offers similar stipends of up to $1,000. A 2019 study published in the American Journal of Public Health linked the program to a 55% decrease in gun homicides and 43% decline in shootings since it began in 2010.
It’s also not San Francisco’s first guaranteed-income program. The City recently rolled out similar efforts for pregnant mothers from marginalized communities and artists struggling during the pandemic. -SF Examiner
The program will start off with just 10 participants in October, and then expand benefits to another 30 high-risk individuals by the end of the year. Officials have already hired two life coaches for the program.
"What we are actually doing is trying to address the root causes of some of what’s happened," said Davis. "Six thousand dollars per person, when you look at it annually, is nothing if it helps deter criminal activity compared to the amount of money it costs to incarcerate someone, let alone the impact of the activity itself."
The program, funded in part by the Dream Keeper Initiative established by Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Shamann Walton to divert funding from the police, is being rolled out by the Human Rights Commission and Office of Economic and Workforce Development.
"My desire is to get to them, not to just make an arrest, but to get to them and to try and figure out if they would be willing to work with us on something that is an alternative," said Breed at a Violence Prevention Summit earlier this month. "We can’t just put them in a program without making sure that they have money, without making sure that they have something to take care of themselves."
The effort comes as shootings are soaring in San Francisco, after years of declines. It’s a pattern being seen around the nation during the pandemic, even in cities like Oakland that already have cash incentive programs.
About twice as many people have been shot in San Francisco as of late July compared to either of the prior two years. During the same time period, police data show there were 21 gun homicides in 2021 compared to 15 in 2020 and 14 in 2019. The number of non-fatal shooting victims also rose to 108 from 51 and 50 in the previous two years.
Those numbers don’t even include a series of four fatal shootings that erupted within the span of five days earlier this month. (San Francisco has seen 34 homicides so far in 2021, as of August 26, compared to 32 at the same point last year. That number includes killings unrelated to gun violence.) -SF Examiner
"Providing individuals with resources to survive and increase their options for success is integral in changing the trends of increased violence," said Walton, adding "This is the perfect time for this strategy."