San Francisco, CA – Mayor London N. Breed today announced her four nominees to serve on the newly-formed Homelessness Oversight Commission. If approved by the Board of Supervisors, these individuals will be part of a seven-member body responsible for overseeing various processes of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH), to include approving budgets, reviewing contracts, and providing policy oversight.
Approved by San Francisco voters in November 2022, the Homelessness Oversight Commission oversees HSH, which directs housing, programs, and services for people experiencing homelessness. The Commission members will serve a four-year term beginning May 1, 2023. The remaining three members are appointed by the Board of Supervisors.
San Francisco is one of the only few counties in the state that saw a decrease in homelessness over the last three years, including a 15% decrease in unsheltered homelessness. HSH is currently finalizing its Five-Year Strategic Plan which will be released next month, setting the goals, strategies, and accountability provisions for addressing homelessness in San Francisco.
“San Francisco is at a critical moment in our homelessness response,” said Mayor Breed. “We are about to launch a new five-year strategic plan that must build on the progress we are making to show the residents in the neighborhoods that we can make change and to help those struggling on our streets get the support they need. These nominees form a diverse group whose personal and professional experiences will bring the expertise necessary to ensure that this Commission remains focused on its purpose of delivering transparency, accountability, and performance for our City.”
Mayor Breed’s nominees include individuals with personal experience directly linked to homelessness and service provision, expertise in mental health services, and a record of working with small businesses or merchants’ associations. The nominees are:
- Vikrum Aiyer, Head of Global Public Policy and External Affairs, Heirloom
- Katie Albright, Senior Advisor of Safe and Sound
- Dr. Jonathon Butler, UCSF Researcher and Executive Director, San Francisco African American Faith-Based Coalition
- Sharky Laguana, Former President of the Small Business Commission and small business owner
The Board of Supervisors will have 60 days to approve or reject the nominees.
About the Nominees
Vikrum D. Aiyer
Head of Global Public Policy and External Affairs, Heirloom
Vikrum D. Aiyer is a longtime SoMa resident, who has spent a career in service of local businesses, federal programs, nonprofits and neighbors. During the pandemic, Aiyer’s persistent advocacy as a founding member of the Neighborhood Business Alliance, helped link the San Francisco’s COVID Command Center to South-Asian & Arab-owned small businesses and corner stores – in the Tenderloin and SoMa – in need of multilingual resources, equitable vaccine distribution, and pilot programs to contain supply chain disruptions. In 2018 Aiyer was a critical voice in compelling local tech companies to invest their fair share in care and housing, and release Prop C funds for homelessness programs, despite challenges in court.
Currently, Aiyer serves as a commissioner to San Francisco’s Workforce Investment Board, overseeing the City's apprenticeship and job-placements pipelines for at-risk youth and adults, including those who have experienced homelessness. As a founding member and advisor to the statewide non-profit End Poverty in CA (EPIC), his team works to eradicate the policies that create and perpetuate poverty, through narrative change and legislative reform. Aiyer has previously held senior executive roles spanning the Obama Administration, the ACLU, and addressing climate change and workforce policy from the private sector, where he has helped oversee multi-billion dollar federal budgets and scaled national initiatives with strict performance metrics, to track how dollars deployed shape outcomes in communities.
“There are heroes throughout San Francisco fighting tirelessly every day to improve the lives of our unhoused residents, and we owe it to them to meet the urgency of the moment,” said Vikrum Aiyer, a SoMa resident for nearly a decade. “SoMa and the Tenderloin bear a disproportionate brunt of our crisis. I’m honored to be nominated by Mayor Breed to represent the very families, small businesses and nonprofits who live this emergency every day—and desperately want to help the City develop compassionate solutions with greater standards of governance and accountability. I hope to use my variety of experiences to work collaboratively across diverse communities and ensure San Francisco is an example of what compassion and courage can achieve."
Senior Advisor, Safe & Sound
Katie Albright, JD, joined Safe & Sound in 2007 when it was named the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center. She served as its Chief Executive Officer and President for the past sixteen years, and recently stepped away to serve as Senior Advisor during leadership transition. She has previously served as a San Francisco Deputy City Attorney representing San Francisco public schools and as Policy Director at the San Francisco Education Fund where she worked to advance a campaign to improve teacher quality and increase student retention. Additionally, Katie served as the Preschool California Co-Director of Policy & Outreach, campaigning statewide for universal preschool.
She has previously served as an Associate at Latham & Watkins LLP and clerked for the U.S. District Court in Maryland. She co-founded and taught in the Kayole-Gitau Nursery School & Community Center in Nairobi, Kenya. Katie actively serves on local and national nonprofit and government boards and commissions. She received an Ascend Fellowship from The Aspen Institute and Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship at Stanford University. Katie graduated with honors from Georgetown University Law Center and Williams College. She lives in San Francisco with her partner and has two grown children.
“I am honored that Mayor Breed nominated me to serve on the Homelessness Oversight Commission,” said Katie Albright. “I look forward to working with my fellow commissioners to advance the intent of San Francisco’s voters to provide oversight, accountability, and meaningful opportunities for public engagement. I am confident that together we can co-create solutions to help people end their homelessness, and also evolve how we as a City approach one of the most challenging issues of our time.”
Dr. Jonathan Butler
Social Epidemiologist and Associate Director, Black Health Initiative, UCSF
Executive Director, San Francisco African American Faith-Based Coalition
Dr. Jonathan Butler is a research faculty member in the Department of Family and Community Medicine & the Center for the Study of Adversity and Cardiovascular Disease (NURTURE Center). At UCSF, Dr. Butler also serves as the associate director of UCSF's Black Health Initiative. He is a social epidemiologist and minister interested in the role of religion, childhood experiences, and psychosocial stress on health outcomes.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors appointed Dr. Butler to the Sugary Drinks Distributor Tax Advisory Committee. He served as a Co-chair, Chair of the Data and Evidence Subcommittee, and member of the Community Input subcommittee. In these roles, he organized multi-disciplinary groups of Bay Area scientists and community and faith-based organizations who advised Mayor Breed about current healthcare priorities and recommendations. Dr. Butler's service on this committee supports long-term public health policy impact for the Bay Area.
In response to COVID-19, Dr. Butler led the partnership between the San Francisco African American Faith-Based Coalition (SFAAFBC), SF community-based organizations, and city food agencies to address food insecurity in San Francisco. Since March 2020, the SFAAFBC has distributed more than 600,000 prepared meals and 70,000 fresh produce boxes and held 30 vaccination clinics at churches vaccinating over 5,000 San Franciscans. The SFAAFBC is a network of over 21 churches working to elevate the quality of life for San Franciscans to become whole, healthy, and productive citizens by empowering the community through a faith-based network and delivering holistic support and services. In addition to the aforementioned experience, Dr. Butler also serves on the board of the San Francisco Interfaith Council.
"I look forward to bringing my lens as a Faith-based leader and experience studying social conditions and their influence on the health of underserved populations, in this capacity, the unhoused population," said Dr. Jonathan Butler. "I take this position seriously and look forward to ensuring that resources allocated to navigate this complicated issue are used for maximum outcomes."
Former President, San Francisco Small Business Commission
Sharky Laguana is a successful entrepreneur and musician with a diverse background and varied career path. As a youth, he experienced homelessness and later lived and worked in a single room occupancy (SRO) hotel on Market Street. Despite these challenges, he pursued his passion for music and became a professional musician in his late 20s, playing guitar and keyboards in the band Creeper Lagoon. After the band broke up, he started a small business renting vans to musicians, eventually expanding into a fleet of hundreds of vehicles with locations across the United States.
More recently, Mayor Breed appointed Sharky to the Small Business Commission in 2019, where he served as President from 2020-2022, overseeing the Office of Small Business and working to support and promote small businesses in the community throughout the City’s COVID-19 response and recovery.
“After serving close to four years on the Small Business Commission, three of those years as President, I am honored to be nominated by Mayor London Breed to serve on the Homelessness Oversight Commission,” said Sharky Laguana. “If approved, I will bring my commitment to public service and love of San Francisco to this new role. I look forward to working with the Commission to find solutions to one of the most pressing issues facing our city.