Posted on August 26, 2019

Gavin Newsom’s Ridiculous Claim: ‘Vast Majority’ of San Francisco’s Homeless People Come from Texas

Chris Nichol, Politifact, August 14, 2019

California Gov. Gavin Newsom made a ridiculously false claim that Texas is responsible for the “vast majority” of San Francisco’s homeless population.

There are many reasons for San Francisco’s homelessness crisis: Gentrification. Job losses. Evictions. Mental health and substance abuse struggles. But … Texas?


The Democratic governor was asked during a June interview on “Axios on HBO” why San Francisco’s homeless population did not experience a net decline during his tenure as mayor. Newsom said most of the homeless people on the street when he left office were not from California, but added “we took responsibility” for them.

He then made the head-scratching claim about Texas.

“The vast majority (of San Francisco’s homeless people) also come in from — and we know this — from Texas. Just (an) interesting fact,” Newsom said.


The Los Angeles Times first pointed out Newsom’s questionable statement about Texas, leading the California Republican Party to later call it “a baseless claim.”


Newsom’s statement is contradicted by San Francisco’s own point in time homeless counts. Those reports are conducted every two years.

They consistently show a large majority of people surveyed said they lived in San Francisco prior to becoming homeless.

A smaller share said they lived in another California county. Often the smallest percentage said they lived out of state before becoming homeless in San Francisco.

The 2019 report found 70 percent had lived in the city; 22 percent in another California county and 8 percent out-of-state. Of that 70 percent, more than half, or 55 percent, reported living in San Francisco for a decade or more before losing their home. Just 6 percent said they had lived in the city for less than a year.


“The data shows (Newsom’s statement) is completely and totally incorrect,” said Jennifer Friedenback, executive director of San Francisco-based Coalition of Homelessness. “Newsom knows better, by the way.”


To support the claim, a spokesman for Newsom provided data from San Francisco’s Homeward Bound, a program that gives homeless people bus tickets to travel to friends or family within or outside the state who have agreed to take them in. {snip}


Texas was the most popular destination outside of California, with 827 trips or 6.7 percent of the program’s 12,268 trips since it started. The next most popular were Washington state, at 5.8 percent, and Florida, at 5.4 percent.

At 6.7 percent, Texas in no way can be described as accounting for “the vast majority” of San Francisco’s homeless population. It also doesn’t mean all those who took a trip to Texas were necessarily from that state.