Gavin Newsom knew it was a political gamble when, as the newly elected mayor of San Francisco, he promised to eradicate chronic homelessness.
“I recognize that I’m setting myself up. I’m not naive to that,” he told his hometown newspaper in 2003 as he embarked on a campaign to sell his controversial plan. It hinged on slashing welfare payments for homeless people and redirecting those funds to acquire single-room occupancy hotels, converting them into long-term housing with health and social services.
“I don’t want to over-promise, but I also don’t want to under-deliver,” he said.
Over-promise he did, and the venture ultimately failed. But that pledge by Newsom — who at the time was a young, politically connected wine shop owner relatively new to public