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September 28, 2023

San Francisco Leftists Fight Over Homelessness

The Ninth Circuit hands Mayor London Breed a victory, and Governor Gavin Newsom positions himself for a White House run.

It’s time to clean up “poop city.” San Francisco has become infamous for its massive homelessness problem, with vagrants living on the city’s streets and literally using the sidewalks for their toilets. Human excrement has become so prolific on the streets of the City by the Bay that, in order to avoid the steaming piles, residents needed a “poop map.”

San Francisco’s vagrancy problem is due to its leaders’ embrace of leftist soft-on-crime policies — authorities bend over backwards to avoid punishing lawbreakers and criminals in order to hold to vacuous “social justice” narratives. The result is injustice, as crime across the board has risen in the city.

And as crime has become more prevalent, citizens have been increasingly clamoring for their city lawmakers to actually do something about it. The trouble is, San Francisco has bowed so low and for so long to leftist social justice warriors that even beginning to reverse course has become a long, drawn-out process that requires the involvement of the courts.

When San Francisco Democrat Mayor London Breed tried to tackle the vagrancy problem by ordering the homeless encampments all over the city be cleaned up, her efforts were immediately stymied by a lawsuit from the Coalition on Homelessness. “These [social justice] activists are the same people who hand out tents to keep people on the street instead of working to bring them indoors, as we are trying to do,” Breed lamented after getting blocked by a judge. “And they are the same people instructing and encouraging people to refuse shelter — to remain on the street instead of going indoors. Their agenda is clear.”

Fortunately, Breed finally got a win from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. At issue was disagreement over the term “involuntary homeless” from the federal landmark case Martin v. Boise. Activists contended that individuals are “involuntarily” homeless if they are refused shelter by the city. However, the Ninth Circuit ruled that an individual cannot be deemed “involuntarily homeless” if they have access to shelter but refuse it.

According to the city, of the estimated 2,344 homeless currently living on the streets in San Francisco, 54%, or 1,278, of those vagrants have refused to accept shelter that has been offered. Breed says the primary reason these folks have refused shelter is that they want “to conduct illegal behavior like drug dealing, human trafficking, and theft.”

Despite the Ninth Circuit victory, Breed noted that the lawsuit is still pending in the courts, so the fight is not over. However, she did promise to “bring people indoors, offer shelter and house people,” and “enforce our laws when those offers are refused.”

So, what does all this have to do with California’s current governor and the former mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom? Well, despite his denials, Newsom is clearly setting himself up for a run at the White House. He knows that California has become infamous for high crime and homelessness, which won’t play well on the national scene. Californians may tolerate it, but most of the rest of the country won’t. Hence, Newsom took the opportunity to file an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court recently, urging the Court to take up cases on homeless encampments. He wants to show that he’s on the side of most Americans, that he wants these camps removed from America’s city streets.

It’s not hard to see his political calculation. As governor of the Golden State, he could have been doing much more to deal with the homeless crisis, but it wasn’t politically expedient for him to do so, so he has so far engaged in photo-op cleanups while doing little else.

As a savvy politician, Newsom is doing his best to appear on the side of the majority of the country — regardless of his record both as mayor of San Francisco and as governor.

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