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Amid recession, is San Francisco losing its heart?

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In one of the poorest districts of the city, the Tenderloin neighborhood, a drop-in center for Latinos is slated to be cut completely, and the Tenderloin Community Resource Center loses its funding as of July 1. [Editor's note: ]

Barbara Lopez, a community organizer with the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, which will also see deep cuts, is among those who see a contradiction between the federal stimulus and local policies.

"The stimulus is about protecting the safety net and stabilizing communities, so why does our mayor feel the need to cut these services?" asks Ms. Lopez. "The city leadership has moved to the right of national leadership." San Francisco, she says, "has this reputation as a very liberal city, and socially it is liberal, but I think our dirty secret is that we're really economically conservative."

More broadly, liberal leaders say conservatives here are using the recession to move social policy to the right.

"The shock of the deficit is being used to make some of the changes that more-conservative forces in the city have been trying to make – privatization, reduction in services to the most needy, cutting health services that are primary care services," says city Supervisor John Avalos, who represents a largely working-class district.

But Supervisor Sean Elsbernd sees it differently: "These are horrible cuts across the board – they're not disproportionately impacting the poor. Every San Franciscan is going to feel the effects of this budget." Argues Mr. Elsbernd, "There needs to be a recognition that we're not in this budget situation just because of the downturn, but because of our spending practices over the years."

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