SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan held a press conference on Wednesday to discuss his upcoming March budget to the city council and residents of San Jose.
“Our budget starts by focusing on safety,” said Mayor Mahan.
Mahan is preparing to present his first budget proposal after being sworn in as the new mayor earlier this year. He outlined the top three priorities of his Back-to-Basics budget, leading with public safety.
“It includes doubling the rate in which we are hiring police officers to reduce response time and improve our investigation capacity. The extra minute it takes for help to come could mean the difference between life and death,” said Mahan.
He said in light of a nationwide recruitment crisis, the city needs to spend more money on outreach and retention programs like referral bonuses and relocation stipends. When surveyed, 65-percent of San Jose residents said they feel unsafe downtown. Eighty-nine percent ranked homelessness as a very or extremely serious issue.
Last year, over 240 unsheltered residents died in the city which is why it is a major priority in the mayor’s budget. He talked about how other cities like Boston, Washington D.C. and New York informed his homeless policy.
“These cities have as much or more homelessness per capita, same or greater rate of homelessness as we have but their unsheltered is in the low single digits. Ours is a nation leading 75-percent,” said Mahan.
He said the difference is the cold weather on the east coast makes providing shelter for the homeless their first priority. “It doesn’t obviate the need to build affordable housing. I would just argue that we have an ethical responsibility of creating that first rung on the ladder,” said Mahan.
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After public safety and homelessness, addressing blight is his next budget priority. “To make neighborhoods cleaner, we need to expand programs that work, like cash for trash and San Jose Bridge which create employment opportunities for homeless residents to clean up the city and be part of the solution,” said Mahan.
Mayor Matt Mahan will present his Back-to-Basics budget to the city council next Tuesday.