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Homeless No More


San Francisco’s homeless problem has been decried by everyone from The Kicker’s Elizabeth Spiers (back when she was a Gawker girl) to the city’s restaurant association. Mayor Gavin Newsom’s mayoral victory owes much to his “Care not Cash” campaign, to turn cash support payments into housing and other kinds of help.

Here’s an inkling of some good – maybe even very good news – on the horizon. This month’s Atlantic Monthly mentions San Francisco’s homeless problem in passing as part of a profile of Bush Administration homeless czar Philip Mangano but the whole thing bodes well for Newsom.
It seems that Mangano’s ideas – one the city recently implemented – of getting folks off the street and into housing with heavy-duty counseling and other kinds of support works. It works well. Oh, yeah, and homeless advocates and other do-gooders are initially suspicious, reluctant to classify the types of neediness and, well, not interested in changing the system they’ve got.
If you live in San Francisco, this is all old news. But it’s very good news for Newsom.
His decision to focus on changing the city’s approach to chronic homelessness made him too many enemies on the left to count. Many of those folks have been won over by Newsom’s decision to allow the city to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. But the political risk that Newsom took over the homeless issue could easily combine with the city’s fiscal problems to send his newly converted lefty supporters running for cover.
Like gay marriage, San Francisco’s homeless program, which Mangano is vocally supporting all the way up the federal funding ladder, might turn out to be more than just a local issue. It could add to Newsom’s nascent reputation as a new kind of Liberal Democrat.
Oh, and just to beat my favorite dead horse about California being the center of a new kind of gentler politics, pay attention to the bipartisan aspects of this effort. Mangano is a Republican. Newsom’s not.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 12:15 PM | Permalink

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