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San Francisco to Receive $587M in COVID Stimulus Plan

Updated: Mar 9, 2021

  • San Francisco will receive $587 million "at minimum" in the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus bill recently approved by Congress, said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on a call last week

  • That figure does not include allocations in specific categories, such as education and mass transit

  • Among other provisions, the bill provides direct aid to individuals and families, rent and business assistance, tax credits, grants to restaurants and bars, and billions in COVID-related spending

  • San Francisco is facing significant fiscal uncertainty, with a projected shortfall exceeding $500 million over the next two budget cycles in addition to a long-term "structural deficit"

San Francisco is set to receive about $587 million in federal funds through the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion stimulus package narrowly approved by the U.S. Senate on Saturday.

The final numbers in the bill may change slightly, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told San Francisco residents at a town hall last Friday. But the bill carries an infusion of cash for state and local governments that have seen revenues evaporate in the COVID crisis, in addition to a slew of other provisions for education, transit, direct aid to families and other forms of economic stimulus.

Among other details, the American Rescue Plan provides for $1,400 in direct stimulus to individuals earning $75,000 per year or less, and more for families with children. It also boosts unemployment checks by $300 per month, in addition to extending eviction moratoriums and rental assistance, nutrition aid to low-income households, child tax credits and $25 billion in grants to restaurants and bars.

The bill also provides for billions in COVID testing, contract tracing, treatment development, in addition to numerous other measures intended to stamp out the pandemic while rebuilding the economy.

"There may be some changes in the numbers...but all of it will make a drastic difference," said Pelosi at the town hall.

San Francisco will receive "at minimum" $587 million in federal stimulus, she said, in addition to allocations in specific categories like transit, assistance for families and businesses, and education.

The stimulus bill includes $20 billion for mass transit with a particular focus on "the hardest hit public transit agencies,” according to the White House. It also allocated $130 billion to allow public schools, including those in higher education, return to in-person learning.

Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the body that oversees transit infrastructure in the Bay Area and distributes federal funds to local agencies, estimates that transit funding to the Bay Area’s 12 designated urban areas will total about $1.67 billion. Of that, $1.25 will go to San Francisco and Oakland, and MTC will decide this spring on how to divvy up the funds amongst transit agencies.

Details weren't immediately available on how the federal funds would be used in San Francisco's own budget, but we will update this story when we hear back.

Over the next few years, the City is facing deficits and significant uncertainty around its fiscal picture even if the economy fully recovers from the COVID crisis.

For the fiscal year ending in June, San Francisco is projecting a balance of $125.2 million in its general fund, largely from state and federal sources. In the subsequent two budgets cycles, the budget office estimates a deficit of about $650 million total, or $528 million if the surplus this cycle is rolled over.

In the longer term, the City's budget office identified a persistent structural deficit that sees expenditures outpacing revenues over time. Spending growth is largely driven by payroll costs, according to the Controller's Office, and the deficit is expected to reach $503.3 million by the fiscal year ending in 2026, even assuming a steady recovery from COVID.


Image by Jake Buonemani
Image by Rasmus Gundorff Sæderup

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