San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee delivered his annual State of the City address today and shared his plan to reduce the city’s economic gap by improving access to housing, education, transportation and by further empowering women and those who find themselves living in poverty.
Lee, who is running for re-election in November, gave his speech this morning at the new and improved San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market in the city’s Bayview District and addressed a large crowd of public officials and community members, including former San Francisco mayors Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Willie Brown.
The mayor championed the smart ideas that have launched “unprecedented economic opportunity and prosperity” in San Francisco, but acknowledged that many people are struggling to afford the city’s high cost of living.
Lee announced affordability directives today that he said will help San Franciscans stay in their homes and continue to raise families in the city.
Lee said not only will construction of housing continue at a rapid pace, but starting this year and over the next 10 years, the city will increase its down payment assistance program by $100 million. He said that support will help an additional 1,500 families purchase homes in San Francisco, a city where home ownership is out of reach for many of its residents.
Lee said he will work to reform the Ellis Act, a state law that grants landlords the right to evict tenants if they are leaving the rental business. The law is often blamed for causing speculator evictions in San Francisco.
He also announced a general obligation bond measure for the November ballot to help fund new and rehabilitated housing for the city’s poorest residents and working families.
To further help families in San Francisco, Lee said universal preschool will be offered to all 4-year-olds and that he will push to make summer programs and after-school programs universal as well.
Lee announced his plans to create a navigation center that will be designed to help transition people who are living on the streets into housing and get them the services they need.
Lee said he also plans to create 500 new supportive housing units and provide mobile medicine for individuals living on the streets.
“As long as I’m mayor, we won’t leave anyone behind,” Lee said.
In transportation efforts, Lee said he would lead the push to keep Municipal Railway service free for youth and make Muni free for all seniors and persons with disabilities as well.
Lee said he will also continue to focus on keeping San Francisco on the “forefront of gender equity and equality,” saying women need to continue to fill high-level jobs in the public sector.
He said the city must do more to identify and eliminate barriers that prevent women from achieving equity in city jobs.
He said the public sector must be a leader in supporting women’s rise into high-level positions and that the private sector, especially growing technology companies in San Francisco, will follow their example.
Hannah Albarazi, Bay City News