Gov. Newsom takes heat for one-way homeless bus program as SF mayor

California’s outspoken Democratic governor is under fire for hypocrisy after exchanging barbs with Republican governors on immigration.

Newsom accused Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Texas Governor Greg Abbott of kidnapping and called their transportation of illegal immigrants “morally reprehensible,” while ignoring a program he created as San Francisco mayor to bus homeless people out of the state.

“Homeward Bound,” which was absorbed by the state’s Access Points program by the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing in June, was defined as Newsom’s brainchild. The program paid homeless people to return to their hometowns, rather than camp on the sidewalk and streets of Newsom’s mayoral city.

“Remember, the vast majority of people that are out on the sidewalks are not from San Francisco originally, and they all have some contacts somewhere, a godparent, a mother, brother, sister, uncle, son, daughter,” Newsom argued at the time. “And those are the people, beyond anything else, that can help turn their lives around. The government can do its job, but we’ll never do a better job than a family member can do in terms of helping a loved one.”

But critics slammed the mayor for “using Greyhound therapy to dump its homeless,” NPR reported in 2006.

Homeless advocate Juan Prava said while the program looked good, it had huge problems.

“In the outset it’s like, Oh, you’re reuniting people with their families,” Prava said. “But if you start to like go and scratch on the surface of this, how much real follow-up can we do on this? I mean, other than people being received, yeah they have a place where they can go. They have a hook in which they can get started. But we don’t really know what happens after a while and they become someone else’s problem.”

Newsom said the Homeward Bound program cost just $100,000 compared with the millions it cost to house the homeless it bused to other locations, NPR reported.

In a 2019 interview with “Axios on HBO,” Newsom claimed that the “vast majority” of program participants were from Texas, a claim PolitiFact rated as “pants on fire” for inaccuracy.

“PolitiFact found at the time that, based on San Francisco’s own figures from 2004 through 2018, approximately 20% of Homeward Bound’s trips took place inside California, and about 80% took place out of state,” Fox News reported. “Texas was the most popular destination outside of California, but only accounted for about 6.7% of the trips, far from the ‘vast majority,’ as Newsom claimed.”

Now Newsom is attacking Republican politicians who opt to share the burden of illegal immigration with cities and states unaffected by the millions of migrants flooding through President Biden’s open border.

DeSantis flew two flights of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard on September 14, flooding the enclave for the rich with a small taste of what El Paso contends with on a daily basis.

Newsom sent Attorney General Merrick Garland a letter this week asking him to investigate whether Abbott and DeSantis committed crimes when they ordered illegal migrants bused to sanctuary cities across the U.S., forgetting his early use of buses to pass the buck on homelessness.

DeSantis responded to Newsom’s allegations, saying the flights are voluntary and that Newsom’s “hair gel is interfering with his brain function.”

To which Newsom tweeted “Since you have only one overriding need — attention –let’s take this up & debate. I’ll bring my hair gel. You bring your hairspray.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott joined the fracas, telling Fox News, “I know the law very well. We have followed the law to the T and made sure everything we’ve done comports with federal law.”

Newsom’s communications director Erin Mellon said “there is no comparison” between Homeward Bound and the actions of DeSantis and Abbott, in a statement to Fox News.

“There is no comparison between the two,” Mellon said. “SF helped people get home to their families. GOP Republicans kidnapped people for a political stunt.”


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