At least California Gov. Gavin Newsom, the former mayor of San Francisco, admits it. On the eve of a visit to San Francisco by China’s Xi Jinping, the city somehow, someway cleared out downtown homeless encampments. Newsom flat-out cops to the reason why.
The governor said, “Folks say, ‘Oh they’re just cleaning up this place because all those fancy leaders are coming into town.’ That’s true. Because it’s true. But it’s also true for months and months and months, prior to APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation), we’ve been having different conversations.”
I recently met the CEO of a large California-based fence and gate company. He told me that San Francisco hired him to install fencing to wall off certain areas downtown, so the Chinese leader would not see the city’s homeless. I asked where the homeless went. He said, “I have no idea. My job was just to install the fencing.”
As I explain in my new book, “As Goes California: My Mission to Rescue the Golden State and Save the Nation,” California, with 12% of the nation’s population, has an estimated 30% of the nation’s homeless. Interestingly, blacks in California account for 6.5% of the state’s population, but a Housing and Urban Development study found that blacks account for 40% of the state’s homeless. This suggests that family breakdown, particularly acute in the black community where nearly 70% of children enter the world without a father married to the mother in the home, plays a role. But few politicians, particularly democrats like Newsom, would dare say such a thing, let alone offer ideas about what to do about it.
In “As Goes California” I write: “Homelessness hurt the homeless more than anyone. If a woman is homeless on the street in Los Angeles, there’s almost a 100 percent chance she will be raped — and more than once. Out there it’s call ‘romancing.’ As reported in the Los Angeles Times, in the summer of 2021, city personnel working over six weeks removed tents and other handmade shelters from the Santa Monica boardwalk and the beach, with outreach workers persuading ‘more than 200 people to accept shelter with the hope of eventually finding permanent housing.’ But rather than accept the shelter that was offered, dozens of people just moved elsewhere and set up new homeless encampments. Most of the fires in Los Angeles are started by or in homeless encampments, where there is open drug use and trafficking.”
Just days ago, over 164 firefighters battled a massive fire that started underneath an overpass of the busy Los Angeles 10 freeway, used daily by hundreds of thousands of commuters. Angelenos can look forward to an indefinite closure, expensive repair, snarled traffic and lots of wasted commuter time. While the cause is under investigation, the fire took place near a homeless encampment, and at least 16 people living underneath that part of the freeway were placed in shelters. No matter the cause of this fire, the Los Angeles Fire Department says the homeless population causes 80% of the downtown Los Angeles fires and 54% citywide.
In “As Goes California,” I write: “Dr. Ben Carson, the former Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, whom I consulted during my (2021 California governor recall) campaign, told me the homeless problem could be solved. ‘We have the money to treat people,’ he said. ‘We have large areas of federal land in California. …And we had already worked out a deal with the democrat mayor of Los Angeles to use these large parcels of land to build small, low-cost housing at a fraction of the normal costs.” Carson said the plan stopped cold when former President Donald Trump lost the 2020 election.
Meanwhile, a new poll finds Newsom’s ratings at an all-time low. The primary reasons? Crime and homelessness. While a 49% approval rating for Joe Biden might be cause for high fives for the president, for Newsom it represents an all-time low since elected governor. Maybe California voters are finally waking up. It is two years too late for 2021 California gubernatorial recall election, but maybe it is not too late for California.