‘Balloon Blockade’ Aimed at SF Mayor’s Balcony to Protest Cuts to Affordable Housing, Food Aid, Child Care

PC: Daniel Lawrence Lu
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By The Vanguard Staff 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – A multiracial coalition of tenants, parents, youth, child care providers, and outreach workers protested Mayor London Breed’s plan to cut essential community programs by releasing a “balloon blockade” around Mayor Breed’s balcony last Thursday.

Community groups urged the city to “love its working families back by protecting and investing in the services needed to revitalize San Francisco” at the steps of City Hall. 

Demonstrators charge the mayor’s proposed cuts to the city budget threaten life-saving services that working people rely on, including housing services, child care and food aid.

“Working-class San Franciscans love this city, are committed to this city and keep it running through a pandemic,” said Ahmed Waheed of the Budget Justice Coalition. “These cuts are devastating for the essential workers who make our city what it is, are still struggling to recover and deserve the City’s support in ensuring they can provide for their families.”

Tenants, housing rights workers, and homeless advocates, according to their statement, “protested the Mayor’s plan to add shelter beds by defunding permanent affordable housing and gutting the Code Enforcement Outreach Program and SRO Collaborative, which fund culturally and linguistically competent outreach workers who help tenants get critical repairs.”

Educators and child care workers said they were upset with “Breed’s plan to give corporate tax breaks to big businesses and sacrifice child care services for working families. Parents waived vegetable-shaped balloons representing the food security their families would lose if cuts to food aid go forward.”

“If we want a safe and thriving city, we must support our working families, not cut the services they need to take care of their kids, keep a roof over their heads, and put food on the table,” said Claire Lau of Chinese Progressive Association.

“These cuts make our city less safe for working San Franciscans,” said Fred Sherburn-Zimmer, Executive Director of the Housing Rights Coalition.

Sherburn-Zimmer added, “Frontline outreach workers are the difference between a tenant getting a fire hazard repaired and an apartment building burning down. These effective, life-saving services have reached tens of thousands of tenants.”

Protestors explained, “Over the past five years, voters have approved multiple revenue measures that tax the wealthiest individuals, to meet San Francisco’s needs for expanded affordable housing, homeless services, childcare, and early childhood education. Hundreds of millions of dollars from multiple revenue measures haven’t been invested as San Francisco residents intended.”

“Stop stealing Prop C, Prop Baby C & Prop I money,” said Anna Wolde-Yohannes, Program Manager at Early Care Educators of San Francisco, adding, “Voters funded the programs we need for affordable housing and child care services—it is time to stop robbing our kids and our city’s future.”

And, Jennifer Friedenbach, Executive Director of the Coalition on Homelessness, charged, “In a $14 billion dollar budget, the City has choices. It should choose to protect those without homes, the seniors, the people with disabilities, the children and the youth, the unemployed, so all have the safety and stability of a home to thrive in. 

“Instead we have a proposed budget that pits the most vulnerable against each other under the red herring of public safety. This budget must be reclaimed by the people to ensure we have more investing and less arresting, which will truly ensure we are all safe in San Francisco.”

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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