SF could require drug treatment for welfare recipients

San Francisco voters will have an opportunity to agree with Mayor London Breed on two public safety proposals.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed is backing two public safety proposals on the March ballot. 

One of the proposals would require single adults who are on welfare to be screened and treated for drug addiction. 


The big picture: The two measures are Proposition F and Proposition E. 

  • Proposition F would require single adults on welfare to be treated for their drug addictions in order to receive cash assistance. San Francisco hands out a maximum of $700 per month to those on welfare. 
  • Proposition E would give the San Francisco Police Department a greater ability to engage in high-speed chases, use drones in pursuits and to install new security cameras in public places. 

Proposition F: According to a report from the Associated Press, San Francisco’s welfare program for single adults serves around 9,000 people annually – all of which would be affected by Proposition F. 

  • Around 20 percent of those on the city’s welfare program self-report a drug issue. 
  • Data from the Department of Public Health shows that nearly one-third of recipients have been diagnosed with a substance use disorder. 
  • Treatment would include residential care, a 12-step program, individual counseling and replacement medication. 
  • Proposition F does not require that those on welfare be sober – only that they get treatment. 

Proposition E: Proposition E would allow the police to pursue suspects if there is a reasonable suspicion that the suspect has committed or is about to commit a felony or violent misdemeanor. 

  • Police would also be allowed to use drones that could have facial recognition technology. 
  • Currently the Police Commission regulates the approval of new public security cameras. Proposition E would transfer that authority to the chief of police, as long as the chief holds a community meeting to discuss the proposed camera. 
  • Proposition E would also allow the police department to use new surveillance technology without approval from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Police would have to submit a set of policies detailing how that technology should be used within a year. 

What they’re saying: Breed announced Proposition F at a press conference last September, calling for increased accountability. 

  • “No more anything goes without accountability, no more handouts without accountability,” Breed said at the time. “So, in order to get resources from our city, you will need to be in a substance use disorder program and consistently seeking treatment.”
  • Regarding Proposition E, Breed said in a statement, “We need to give our officers the tools necessary to keep our communities safe and not leave them stuck behind a desk when they can be out on the street helping people.” 
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