Newsom Slams S.F. Homeless Funding Effort

Democratic candidate for governor says the “problem is going to get a lot worse” if San Francisco spends hundreds of millions to address homelessness.

(Kevin Hume)

The November ballot measure to raise an additional $380 million to take on homelessness is currently quite popular with San Francisco voters, as a poll last month showed 66 percent of likely voters support Prop. C (while 28 percent oppose it). But the opposition campaign hasn’t kicked in to high gear yet, and foes of the half-percent tax on multi-million dollar corporations just found powerful new ally — our “pro-business” Democratic candidate for governor Gavin Newsom, who dumped on the idea after attending an economic forum with Bay Area CEOs this week.

Newsom didn’t mention the Our City, Our Home measure by name, but he was pretty darned specific in describing Prop. C by the numbers, and why he thinks that additional S.F. homeless funding would be a terrible idea.

“Put another $400 million in the homeless problem and I promise you this: Your problem is going to get a lot worse,” the former San Francisco mayor told the San Francisco Chronicle Tuesday after a meeting with the business lobby Bay Area Council.

Unsurprisingly, the candidate for governor thinks that a governor would be better equipped to address homelessness. “You’re not going to solve this homeless problem in San Francisco,” Newsom said. “It’s not a San Francisco issue; it’s a regional issue.”

Newsom took his swings at solving San Francisco’s perpetual homeless crisis when he was mayor from 2004 to 2011, and District 2 supervisor the seven years prior to that. His signature efforts included the 2002 Care Not Cash initiative and a 2010 Sit-Lie ordinance that banned sitting on sidewalks. Both were approved by San Francisco voters despite critics calling the measures punitive against the poor, but neither had a measurable or lasting impact on San Francisco homelessness.

Newsom has now telegraphed his opposition to the latest attempt to tackle San Francisco’s homeless problem. If you’re keeping score on other high-profile officials’ stances on Prop. C, the San Francisco Examiner reports that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi backs the Our City, Our Home measure, whereas Mayor London Breed says she needs to “analyze” the measure further before committing.

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