Amid reports that president is seeking to clear California streets of encampments, activists call for funding for housing
The Trump administrations threat to crack down on homelessness in California has prompted skepticism and fear from advocates, who said the federal government should provide funding for services and housing or stay away.
Its unclear how the federal government could legally attempt to target people on the streets. But given the administrations continuing efforts to slash funding for low-income housing programs and social services, and the presidents repeated derogatory attacks on California cities, someadvocates for the homeless said they were not confident that the White House would provide any useful support.
The federal government should behave with compassion. We dont need Trumps tough talk to compound the trauma people are dealing with, said Stephen Cue Jn-Marie, a Los Angeles pastor who works with people living at Skid Row, the epicenter of the crisis. Anyone who comes to Skid Row to crack down and not actually deal with the root causes were not listening. I really dont want to hear what the president has to say.
The president, who has made insulting California a consistent campaign theme, told Fox News this summer that he wanted to intercede on homelessness, citing San Francisco streets and saying: We may do something to get that whole thing cleaned up. Its inappropriate. He also called the city disgusting.
A White House spokesman said on Tuesday that the president had taken notice of the crisis particularly in cities and states where the liberal policies of overregulation, excessive taxation, and poor public service delivery are combining to dramatically increase poverty and public health risks. The president was exploring the subject as a way to highlight the failures of Democratic leaders, according to reports in the Washington Post and New York Times.
The Rev Andy Bales, CEO of Union Rescue Mission, a Los Angeles homeless organization, met with some of the Trump officials this week and said he was optimistic. Bales said he would like to see the federal government provide support for building a new shelter and more bathrooms and that the administration leaders he took on a tour of Skid Row seemed focused on offering resources.
They said, We are just here to help people in any way we can, and I take them at their word.
San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland and other California cities all have worsening housing emergencies, with expanding income inequality and the rising costs of housing forcing people to live in their cars, makeshift sheds and growing tent encampments.
President Trump could address the homelessness crisis as the chief executive of the federal government, which is the same entity that caused the homelessness crisis, said Jennifer Friedenbach, the executive director for the Coalition on Homelessness, in San Francisco. He has been slashing programs and people are out there are suffering that he is responsible for. He is blaming them for a situation he is creating.
The president has pushed major budget cuts for public housing and low-income assistance programs and has fought to curb access to food stamps and other services that can help people avoid displacement.
We need the restoration of public housing, said Adam Rice, an organizer with Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA Can), who works at Skid Row and was previously homeless. Lets actually have a discussion about homelessness on a national stage.
Rice and other advocates pointed out that city leaders in LA have repeatedly put resources into sweeps and policing with policies that echo the rhetoric of the president. LA politicians are considering new rules that would further restrict where people can sleep in the city.