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San Francisco City Hall



Thursday, February 29, 2024  

Contact: Mayor’s Press Office,     



Only 53% of those arrested for substance use as part of City’s targeted drug market operations self-identified as living in SF 

County Adult Assistance Program Impacts: 33% of those arrested for substance use who are also receiving city-funded cash assistance identified as living outside San Francisco in violation of the program 

San Francisco, CA – Today, the City released new data for the past year that showed nearly half of individuals cited for drug use by the San Francisco Police Department don’t live in San Francisco. The new data comes as the City continues its coordinated response to shut down open-air drug markets in the Tenderloin and South of Market that are harming city neighborhoods and spreading the use of deadly fentanyl that is driving overdoses.     

In addition, 20% of those arrested or cited as part of these operations are on County Adult Assistance Program (CAAP) in San Francisco. Of those 141 individuals, 33% stated they lived outside of San Francisco and therefore are not eligible for this funding and are committing welfare fraud.  

The data set, which spans March 30, 2023, to February 2, 2024, found 718 unique individuals cited for substance use.   

Of the 718, only 53% stated they lived in San Francisco vs 47% that stated they reside in another county or declined to state.  

Of the 718, 141 or 20% are current or recent recipients of CAAP cash payments. 

Of those 141 current or recent CAAP recipients, 33% stated they live outside of San Francisco. 

State law requires all 58 counties to provide aid and support in the form of cash and other services to very low-income adults without dependents through locally funded “General Assistance” Programs. In San Francisco, the state mandated General Assistance is part of the County Adult Assistance Program.    

To be eligible for CAAP, individuals must be San Francisco residents. HSA currently requires proof of residency in San Francisco for a minimum of 15 days, but unfortunately people take advantage and provide false information when applying. Those who don’t live in San Francisco are taking advantage of the system meant to benefit those struggling in this City. When someone is identified as being on CAAP but not actually living in San Francisco, they are immediately removed from the program.   

“These numbers serve as proof that we must continue doubling down our efforts to shut down our drug markets that are attracting people to come here,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed. “Over the past year, our local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies have made a significant increase in drug seizures and arrests, but we can’t let up until those dealing drugs and using them openly on the street understand that San Francisco is closed for this type of activity. We will continue to work to get people into treatment, but we can’t continue to leave people to deteriorate and die from overdoses.” 

“To account for the high cost of living in the San Francisco, the monthly CAAP cash grant is $712, which is the highest in the state and more than twice the statewide average,” said Trent Rhorer, Executive Director of the San Francisco Human Services Agency. “These taxpayer dollars are intended to provide short-term support to meet basic needs for San Francisco’s poorest residents, not for people who live in other counties whose grants are far too low and certainly not for any recipient to purchase and use illegal drugs. The Human Services Agency has measures in place to prevent non-residents from receiving our local dollars, but unfortunately sometimes fraudulent documents limit our effectiveness at maintaining program integrity. This data shows us that we need to redouble our efforts to prevent this welfare fraud moving forward.” 

“These numbers further confirm that San Francisco is too often a destination for drug tourism, and why Mayor Breed’s efforts to dismantle open-air drug scenes and hold general assistance recipients accountable to seek drug treatment when it’s medically indicated are absolutely necessary,” said Supervisor Matt Dorsey. “We owe it to those struggling with substance use disorders not to enable behaviors that are deadlier than ever, and we owe nothing less to San Francisco taxpayers who shouldn’t be asked to foot the bill for it. Together with the known address history report I’ve requested from the City Controller, I think these numbers will help inform policy choices we should continue making to disincentivize drug use and incentivize treatment and recovery.” 

City Enforcement Efforts 

Over the past year, San Francisco law enforcement agencies have worked with state and federal partners to focus on drug enforcement in the Tenderloin and South of Market area. This effort brought together different agencies for better coordination starting in May 2023. 

In 2023, local law enforcement agencies made over 2,000 arrests for drug sales or drug use in the Tenderloin area. They seized over 260 pounds of fentanyl. The work has continued this year, with 350 arrests so far this year for drug sales or drug use. Just last week, SFPD made an arrest in Oakland linked to the Tenderloin where they seized 44 pounds of fentanyl.   

These numbers don’t include additional federal efforts being conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Drug Enforcement Agency. 

As a result of this operation, the District Attorney’s Office has seen a record number of felony narcotics cases presented and filed year to date since 2018. Through December 14, 2023, 952 felony narcotics cases were presented of which 827 were filed (87% filing rate) compared to the previous record of 880 cases presented in 2018 and 731 cases filed.   

Individuals who are detained under public intoxication laws are offered services for treatment that they access upon release. Anyone detained in San Francisco’s jails are supported by Jail Health Services. City health and homelessness outreach teams conduct daily outreach to offer services and treatment linkages in targeted neighborhoods. 

Currently, the San Francisco Department of Public Health serves 25,000 people annually with mental health and addiction care, including nearly 5,000 people with medication-assisted treatment like buprenorphine and methadone. Right now, individuals can start treatment as soon as they apply to one of these medication programs.  

State & Federal Law Enforcement Efforts 

Governor Gavin Newsom’s deployment of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and the National Guard have supported and expanded these local law enforcement efforts.  

The California National Guard and CHP are coordinating with the San Francisco Police Department and the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office on a coordinated task force that investigates opioid deaths in San Francisco similar to homicide cases, and employs standard operating procedures to document deaths, gather relevant evidence, and process intelligence to further map out the supply of fentanyl and large crime syndicates, and hold drug traffickers accountable.     

In November, U.S. Attorney Ismail Ramsey announced the federal government was providing major resources to assist in the City’s drug dealing epidemic. The “All Hands On Deck” initiative combines federal, state and local resources to ramp up arrests of street dealers. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is also increasing federal charges against drug traffickers, raising the stakes by holding dealers accountable.