Ideas that work: a plan for a new San Francisco - Page 3

With its own public bank, San Francisco could begin to fund and promote more community-centered forms of economic development


More than any other American city, San Francisco relies on a network of faith- and community-based nonprofits to deliver critical health and human services to its poorest and sickest residents. More than 15,000 people are employed in this sector, which had a total budget of almost $800 million in 2000.

Health and human service nonprofits play a significant role in providing a substantial portion of the city's services for seniors, people with AIDS, the homeless, children and youth, people with special physical and mental needs, and those who suffer from substance abuse.

Yet this critical sector finds itself bearing the brunt of cuts and reduction in services caused by the fiscal crisis facing San Francisco.

So what can we do? Here are seven suggestions.

First, conduct a coordinated citywide health and human services needs assessment driven by neighborhoods and communities.

Second, working with service users, service providers, and city employees, create a 10-year plan for health and human services that can guide yearly budget considerations.

Third, as the city implements the 2009 ballot measure that calls for a two-year budget cycle informed by five-year financial plans, require department heads and commissions to include the perspective of professional service providers and service users, including a standards analysis plan and a narrative about the impact on services.

Fourth, open a dialogue with the foundation community on addressing the changing needs of the nonprofit human services community, including community needs, accountability, and funding cycles.

Fifth, depoliticize the request-for-proposals (RFP) process by moving it out of city departments and into the Controller's Office.

Sixth, require city departments that contract with nonprofit health and human service providers to complete their implementation of the recommendations to streamline the city's contracting and monitoring processes approved by the 2003 City Nonprofit Contracting Task Force, and ensure that current procedures and processes are consistent with those recommendations.

And seventh, preserve services for the most vulnerable San Franciscans by focusing on revenue solutions to the city's ongoing structural budget deficit, including November 2010 campaigns to increase the hotel tax and the real property transfer tax. (Debbi Lerman, Human Services Network)


Although these are hard times, there's an opportunity for San Francisco to realize a new model of economic sustainability — by supporting worker cooperatives.

The worker cooperative model is a business form well-suited to the diverse needs of urban areas and is already viable in a broad variety of sectors including manufacturing, service, and retail. A key aspect of worker cooperative development is that its goal is not just the creation of jobs; it's also about making business ownership accessible.

An inspiring new model of economic development is currently taking place with the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland. In an ambitious effort, anchor institutions such as the local universities, hospitals, and the City of Cleveland have established procurement agreements with developing worker cooperatives rooted in the struggling urban communities of Cleveland (where unemployment rates are as high as 25 percent). The goal is to redirect the estimated $3 billion that these anchor institutions spend on goods and services toward worker cooperatives in the communities where these institutions are located. The first two business models underway are a commercial laundry service and a solar installation company.

There's also a lot of inspiring work already being done by the worker cooperative community in the Bay Area.

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