Big Tech vs. Homelessness: San Francisco Voters Stan For Change

By CultureBanx Team

  • Proposition C will bring in as much as $300M in taxes each year

  • African Americans make up 34% of San Francisco’s homeless population

Voters in San Francisco have won a battle against tech giants that have played a role in increasing the city’s homeless population. Proposition C is earmarked for homeless relief programs and will bring in as much as $300 million each year by taxing large businesses, doubling the city’s budget for dealing with homelessness.

Why This Matters: In one of the richest cities in the U.S., this new measure will force big companies to pay for a problem in which they’ve helped to exacerbate. In 2017, the San Francisco Homeless Count Survey found the differences between the city’s population and those experiencing homelessness were vastly distinct, with African Americans making up 34% compared to just 6% of the general population.

Half of the annual $300 million haul is earmarked for permanent housing for the homeless

San Francisco's biggest tech employer, Salesforce (CRM -3.49%) has been the biggest advocate in favor of Prop C. They poured more than $7 million into the campaign in the month leading up to the election. Interestingly, the city's second largest tech employer Uber has been nowhere to be found in the debate. Other vocal opponents of the corporate tax include billionaire Jack Dorsey’s company Square (SQ -2.61%) along with Visa (V -0.90%), Lyft and Stripe.

Proposition C puts an average 0.5% gross receipts tax on San Francisco businesses that pull in more than $50 million annually. Half of the annual $300 million haul is earmarked for permanent housing for the homeless, a quarter for mental health services, 15% for homelessness prevention, and 10% for emergency shelters.

What’s Next: The city’s chief accounting officer said that San Francisco may have to hold off on enforcing the new tax, in anticipation of an incoming lawsuit. Opponents claim the results needed to pass by two-thirds instead of a simple majority in order to stand on solid legal ground.

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