December 28, 2019

Trump claims homelessness so easy to handle in attack on Democrats
President says governors of New York and California should ‘politely’ ask him for help in latest broadsideDonald Trump has continued to use America’s homelessness crisis to attack his political opponents in California and New York, tweeting on Saturday that homelessness should be “easy” to handle and that the governors of the two liberal states should ask him for help.Workers and activists on the front lines of the crisis have repeatedly said that Trump’s “tough talk” on homelessness is concerning, and that some of his proposed policies will only make the situation worse.As the number of homeless people has increased sharply in cities across California, some local politicians have already tried to try to penalize people for being homeless, rather than addressing root causes of the crisis, including unaffordable rents and evictions pushing people on to the streets.Meanwhile, Trump has continued to fuel anxiety by repeatedly suggesting he might try to implement some kind of police crackdown in California to clear the streets of encampments.On Christmas Day, Trump attacked California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, for his “bad job” on “taking care of the homeless population in California”.“If he can’t fix the problem, the Federal Govt. will get involved!” the president said.On Thursday, Trump attacked Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat who has lead the effort to impeach him, and told her to “clean up her filthy dirty District & help the homeless there”.On Saturday, Trump wrote that fixing the homeless crisis “would be so easy with competence!”The governors of California and New York “must do something”, Trump wrote, and if they “can’t handle the situation, which they should be able to do very easily, they must call and ‘politely’ ask for help.”In September, a report from Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers concluded that “policing may be an important tool to help move people off the street and into shelter or housing where they can get the services they need”.Trump told reporters that month he was concerned about homeless people living on “our best streets, our best entrances to buildings”, places “where people in those buildings pay tremendous taxes, where they went to those locations because of the prestige”.“We can’t let Los Angeles, San Francisco, and numerous other cities destroy themselves,” he said, citing his concern that “foreign tenants” who moved to the cities because of the “prestige” now wanted to leave because of the homeless people and tents on the streets.Violent attacks directly targeting homeless people have risen in California in the past year: in Los Angeles alone, there have been at least eight incidents in which people threw makeshift explosives or flammable liquids on homeless people or their tents, according to officials and the Los Angeles Times.Trump’s repeated tweets about homelessness have been labeled “vile and reprehensible” by activists.Diane Yentel, the president and chief executive of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), noted on Thursday that Trump had proposed drastically shrinking or eliminating federal programs that keep the lowest-income people affordably housed, an important prevention measure that keeps people from becoming homeless.“In California, over 37,000 of the lowest-income people are at risk of eviction from this Trump proposal alone,” Yentel said.She also noted that Trump’s Department of Housing and Urban Development had “proposed allowing homeless shelters to discriminate and refuse shelter to transgender and other LGBTQ people, subjecting them to high risk of violence”.Homelessness is continuing to rise across California: a year-end Guardian investigation found that homelessness had increased 16% in Los Angeles, 17% in San Francisco, 42% in San Jose, 47% in Oakland, and 52% in Sacramento county, home to the state’s capital. Many people were experiencing homelessness for the first time, and both families and seniors are increasingly struggling with homelessness.Trump’s focus on homelessness in California and elsewhere is not the first time he has suggested that he could “easily” solve complex social problems in cities where Democrats hold political power.During his presidential campaign, Trump claimed that an unnamed Chicago police official had told him that violence in Chicago could be stopped “in one week” if officers were allowed to be “very much tougher than they are right now”.Chicago typically has the highest total number of murders of any American city, though other smaller cities, including St Louis, have higher per capita murder rates.
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