Will Gavin Newsom Still End Homelessness by 2014?

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Newsom asked for budget cuts, and that's what Newsom is getting
So it seems that not all of former Mayor Gavin Newsom's "head-spinning" machinations have worked in his favor. Before leaving office, he was successful in lining City Hall with an administration that would deliver a Newsomesque agenda.

And his efforts paid off, except in one area. His hand-selected Health Department Chief, Barbara Garcia, isn't following orders; she hasn't  implemented one of Newson's most beloved programs -- Daily Homeless Connect.

Last month, SF Weekly broke the story about the program falling by the wayside now that Newsom had left San Francisco politics.

At the time, nobody could give us a reason why the Daily Homeless Connect was now a disconnect. Yet Garcia is now telling reporters that she cannot see the logic in starting a new program when she's been asked to shutdown so many others due to budget cuts.

Before leaving office in January, Newsom had directed every department to shave their budget by 20 percent to help offset the city's monstrous $383 million deficit. 

So that's what Garcia is doing -- and it means her department is taking a $68 million hit.

"I want to hold off on implementing the program to see how many health service cuts I have to make," she said.

The Daily Homeless Connect program was scheduled to open its doors last month in the Tenderloin, giving homeless residents a daily drop-in site where they could get a gamut of services. The cutting edge program was supposed to help Newsom reach his stated goal of eliminating chronic homelessness by 2014.

In December, the mayor's staff announced its $400,000 contract with Tenderloin Health to administer the program; officials had drawn up plans and even gave reporters a tour of the new site, claiming it would serve 100 people a day.

David Fernandez, executive director with Tenderloin Health, told SF Weekly last month that he had no idea what happened with the program.

"We had the mayoral change and then it was put on hold," Fernandez said. "We have not gotten the go-ahead to do anything. I don't know what it means."

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Homelessness in this city needs to be curbed. Any effort to do so is applauded -- whether by offering services or by not condoning it on public streets.


Too bad he didn't vow to end his own narcissism instead, since that would have been both more realistic and more useful in the long run.

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