A new city report that is conveniently timed before Tuesday’s 'drug screening for welfare recipients' vote finds that some drug users get SF welfare even though they don’t live here, though the report only details 41 people doing this.

The Chronicle has run a couple articles this week which might, shall we say, influence your vote on next week’s March 5 SF ballot measure issues.

The first was a long-form Tuesday article that detailed how thousands of innocent people nationwide have been killed by police car chases, published right before Tuesday’s vote on Prop E that would allow SFPD to engage in more car chases.

Now today, the Chronicle has a report on drug users from out of town collecting public assistance benefits from SF even though they live elsewhere, just days before Tuesday’s Prop F vote on drug screening for welfare recipients.

Now in fairness to the Chronicle, they are just covering a report produced by Mayor Breed’s office that was released Thursday morning. But it’s quite clear Breed’s office unveiled this report, at this time, for a reason.


The numbers cover a date range from March 2023 to February 2024, which coincides with the city's drug-use crackdown that’s brought SF Sheriff's deputies, Highway Patrol, and state National Guard into the enforcement effort. It says that out of 718 people arrested for drugs during this period, 47% of them lived in another county (or declined to state an address, which may simply be a sign of homelessness). Half of drug arrestees being from out of town is a lot, though that percentage is lower than the 95% from out of town that SFPD Chief Bill Scott claimed last summer.

The report also notes that 20% of those arrested (141 people) were recipients of the County Adult Assistance Program (CAAP), which is the technical term for welfare payments in SF. And out of those 141 people receiving San Francisco benefits, the report says "33% stated they live outside of San Francisco."

Sounds infuriating! Though the Chronicle notes that this breaks down to “41 of those people reside in other counties” (plus a few more who declined to state address). So while there is some gaming of the system, it seems to be only a few dozen people who are doing this.

That said, these few dozen people are somehow giving false residential information to collect about $712 a month, paid for by your taxes.


“People who submit false claims to programs meant to help people who live here have been removed,” Breed declared on Twitter/X. “We will lead with treatment and efforts to compel people into care. We want to help save lives, not just let people deteriorate on our streets.”

We will take Breed’s word that these out-of-towners have since been cut off from the SF welfare spigot. But one wonders how the same city that dispensed these benefits to out-of-towners is the very same city that determined they are from out of town. Maybe the right hand just wasn’t talking to the left hand? But if the administration is going to make political fodder out of the “drug tourism” trope, it’s also fair to ask questions about the role played by this administration, in power now for nearly five years, and why no one figured this out any sooner.

Related: Sup. Dorsey Demands Report on ‘Drug Tourism,’ Seems to Be Itching For Crackdown [SFNews]

Image: Joe Kukura, SFNews