Tax big tech to help the homeless? San Francisco says yes after a ferocious campaign

A measure to tax the affluent societies and finance services for the homeless who have seen pounding technological insults exchanged insults with pounding support

The C proposition is expected to increase $ 250 million – $ 300 million of additional service revenue for the approximately 7,500 people sleeping on sidewalks every night.

Starting from Wednesday, with 100% of the votes counted, the tax is passed with 60% of the votes.

"I think this was really built on decades of organization and really creating the conditions that made last night's win possible," said Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition for the Homeless, one of Prop C.'s architects. " It was a fight just to keep our basic humanity in San Francisco, it was a real battle, but we managed to do it, which is why we succeeded. "

The tax has become the key issue within the technology sector in this electoral cycle, with billionaires maintaining the measure on securities with struggles and public donations for or against it. Opponents of the measure claim that the tax will drive business from the city, while supporters point out that the homeless in San Francisco have become a humanitarian crisis, partly due to the technological boom that has contributed to the increase in costs of housing.

The Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff, led the charge for the measure, channeling millions of their own money into the "Yes on C" campaign and calling the technology giants who opposed it.

On Wednesday he tweeted: "The victory of Prop C means that the homeless will have a home and the help they really need! Let the city unite in love for those who need it most! # 39 is the goal when it comes to helping the homeless. "

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square, was one of the most explicit critics of the measure, saying he did not believe it was "the best way" to "solve the homelessness problem". Many have criticized his position, pointing out that Twitter has long benefited from a massive tax reduction to operate in San Francisco. Zynga's co-founder, Mark Pincus, aroused similar emotions when he tweeted that "Prop c is the stupidest and least thoughtful ever" (sic) – Zynga received a tax reduction similar to that received by Twitter after copying Twitter and threatened to move out of San Francisco.

Dorsey did not tweet again on Prop C on Wednesday, nor did he respond to requests for comment. Pincus tweeted: "Some good electoral results: 100 women elected at the congress, gavin as gov, and even prop c, that we will all work to succeed for the homeless sf."

The influx of riches that accompanied the second boom of the dotcoms in San Francisco has created huge economic disparities and has pushed up the real estate market, fueling the cold relations between the premises and the new technology transplants. The "fast moving and breaking things" mentality of the industry pushed the techie stereotype titled and still not engaged, as well as the various diatribes and open letters written by founders and businessmen who complained about the "riff-raff" and the "homeless" "the homeless were forced to meet on the street while going to work.

But in the years since the start of the boom, technology workers have had time to live and grow in this city and come to think of it as their home. Many of the volunteers for the Yes on C campaign were technicians, said Friedenbach.

Rising inequality and homelessness have come to define San Francisco.



Rising inequality and homelessness have come to define San Francisco. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

"We needed 9,000 signatures to get the vote, and we ended up getting 28,000 signatures, and one big reason for this was that many of the people out there who were getting the signatures were technicians," he said. "And every time a company came out against Prop C, their workers rebelled to a certain level."

And because of the campaign donations from Salesforce and Benioff, Friedenbach said the campaign was able to immediately help some homeless people to provide work.

"We had already planned to hire homeless people," he said. "We had an employment budget of 40 but we were able to increase salaries and hire about 200 homeless people to make phone calls, knock on doors and do the job, and we would not have been able to do that without funding. Salesforce For the people out there, the homeless people who languish on those waiting lists, only being able to evaluate them as human beings and fighting side by side with them has been a truly transformative experience. "

The Yes on C campaign had hoped for a two-thirds majority vote to circumvent any legal problems. In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 216, thus requiring a two-thirds majority for any new tax measure in which the proceeds were used for specific purposes. But the city's attorney's office has interpreted a supreme state court of 2017 that has established that a tax measure applied to the vote by citizens, not government officials, has required only a simple majority to pass.

The city has already prepared for the legal battle, with the controller Ben Rosenfield, asking the mayor and the supervisors council to put the tax funds collected by the Prop C in a reserve until all legal disputes are resolved.

Friedenbach said he is not too worried about any legal problems. "We have a strong municipal attorney's office," he said.

Instead, he is concentrating on the work to be done. In the 23 years he worked with the coalition, he did not have the opportunity to enjoy many victories. But Tuesday night, he had the opportunity to look out into a crowd of people, many of whom were homeless or former homeless, and celebrated.

"For the first time they were really feeling hope," he said. "They were languishing on these waiting lists for housing for years and years, and now a path out of the way is something they can view."

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