Home>Articles>SF Mayor Breed Pushes For Initiative to Require All Welfare Recipients Undergo Drug Screening

Mayor London Breed speaking at the the Women's March rally, Jan. 18, 2020, San Francisco, CA. (Photo: Sheila Fitzgerald/Shutterstock)

SF Mayor Breed Pushes For Initiative to Require All Welfare Recipients Undergo Drug Screening

Prop F heads to ballots in San Francisco in one month

By Evan Symon, February 6, 2024 2:34 am

In the last month, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, as well as other city lawmakers, have pushed forward an upcoming proposition that would require all welfare recipients in San Francisco County to undergo drug screening and receive treatment if they are to continue receiving city funds.

Amidst a high crime rate, polls showing over half of Americans finding San Francisco unsafe, rising drug usage, and a record number of overdose deaths in the city in 2023, many lawmakers in the city have begun to push for more control on the drug abuse issue. In particular, the November 2023 APEC Summit had shocked many world leaders when, even after a massive clean up operations, they still found many drug users on the streets and had robberies occur within cordoned off areas. This caused many lawmakers to flock to Proposition F in the past several months.

According to the wording of Proposition F, a yes vote would support requiring drug screening of individuals receiving County Adult Assistance Program (CAAP) benefits for individuals suspected by the city to be using illegal substances and requiring the individual to participate in treatment programs (if the treatment program is free) to continue receiving assistance benefits. As CAAP benefits go up to $687 per month, this would be a significant amount of money for those under the program.

Initially, many lawmakers were up in arms over the Proposition. In September, Supervisors Hillary Ronen and Connie Chan decried the Proposition, saying that it would hurt addicts who need the money to survive.

“I find the proposal disturbing,” said Ronen. “So, in other words, we’re going to hit you over the head with more punishment. Do we really think the best way to get people better is by kicking them more when they’re down?”

Chan added, “Am I living in Texas, or am I living in San Francisco? There is no reason we have to test people to get the help they need and deserve. It is just unacceptable. And I think we all need to take a step back and have some self-reflection, not just inside this chamber but all up and down this building.”

Others said that the Proposition would only increase homelessness and  would waste healthcare resources.

However, as the crime and drug issues piled on from 2023 to 2024, and the city became embarrassed at their reputation, many lawmakers began to change their tune. Last month, Breed, Supervisors Matt Dorsey and Rafael Mandelman, and Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) all spoke at a rally that was in favor of numerous propositions, including Proposition F. Breed, who had helped place Proposition F on the ballot in the first place, became the biggest supporter.

Prop F in San Francisco

“They said San Francisco makes it too easy for people to access and to use drugs on the streets of the city and we need to do something a lot more aggressive,” said Breed over the weekend.

A few weeks ago, she also noted during a press conference, “San Francisco, this compassionate city, makes it too easy for people to be out there on the streets using drugs.”

While initially seen as a no-go proposition, Prop F is looking likely to pass as many citizens are fed up with the high crime and drug usage. Many lawmakers, likewise, are worried about upcoming reelections, and want to show a stronger stance on drugs and treatment before November.

“Amongst addicts, most I’ve talked with are actually for this believe it or not,” said Harmony Smith, who runs a support group for addicts in San Francisco, to the Globe on Monday. “They see it as incentive. They want to get off of heroin, cocaine, meth, and any other drug you can name. They are all very concerned about fentanyl. I mean, we all know someone who has overdosed or died because of it. Over 800 died because of drug overdoses in San Francisco last year.”

“Many want that kick to go into recovery, and this can help many out. It will suck for many short-term, as they can really use that money for a lot of expenses. But long-term, they won’t spend that money on drugs, and instead go towards other things. This is not punishment. It’s a way to help get this problem under control and get people back on track with their lives.”

“I’m not sure how much this is political to be honest. It does seem like many politicians here want this to pass to look good I guess. But can we just strip away the politics and just judge it on what it would do? It would help people get clean. It would help the city with the drug problem. It would save lives. And it would give them needed CCAP cash at the end of it all to move forward. And if, after all that, you are still undecided, all of that CAAP money would then go back into the city through rent or food or other purchases, helping the economy a little bit. Anyone who is still saying this is bad, you know, get off your high horse, go to a shelter, and talk to some addicts there who need help.”

Proposition F  is to be voted on one month from now in San Francisco during the primary election.

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Evan Symon
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6 thoughts on “SF Mayor Breed Pushes For Initiative to Require All Welfare Recipients Undergo Drug Screening

  1. Strange, many on the left used to cry that drug testing welfare recipients was racist, unfair and discriminatory. My, how times change. I guess reality smacks most in the face sooner or later, or at least when their political careers are on the line.

  2. No doubt if voters do pass Proposition, Democrat Mayor London Breed and other San Francisco Democrats are counting on one of their activist Democrat judges in the courts to strike it down as discriminatory or for some other reason? This is all about optics and soft on crime Democrats like Breed trying to stay in power?

    1. Big picture penetrating insight here. I agree completely. Breed “does the right thing,” then gets her buddies in an activist judicuary behind the scenes and under the table to nix the whole thing. She shrugs her shoulders and says, “well, I tried to do it right, but I got slammed by the courts.” What a total crock of a corrupt system we have. Everything’s rigged, 100%.

  3. But, but but… how will Scott Weiner react to this??? He’ll likely have a complete psychotic meltdown episode, now that one of his own is challenging his pet topic….

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