Trump attacks California homelessness but denies state's request for help


Trump says he wants to solve the problem of homelessness in California, but what he really wants to do is bash a blue state.

Democratic politicians in California and Donald Trump rarely agree on something, but they all acknowledge that homelessness is a real problem in the state. Unfortunately, only California wants to fix it.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, along with mayors of California's 13 largest cities, reached out to the Department of Housing and Urban Development to ask for additional federal money to fund things such as more housing vouchers. You'd think since Trump has been railing against the problem of homelessness in California that he'd be eager to help.

You'd be wrong.

Rather than agreeing to partner with the state on funding real solutions, Trump had HUD Secretary Ben Carson write an absurd letter of refusal. Carson placed the blame on California, complaining that the state has an "over-regulated housing market" and "weakened law enforcement," and that's why there are homeless people.

Carson explained his thinking to reporters earlier in the day when he said the Trump administration might start giving housing grants only to cities that reduce regulations on developers. Specifically, the Trump team is unhappy about rules such as requiring solar panels on new housing developments. Leave it to this administration to find a way to hurt homeless people and hasten the destruction of the environment in one fell swoop.

It gets worse.

The administration also blames California's pervasive homeless problem on sanctuary cities, with Carson writing that "illegal and inadmissible aliens are increasing housing demand and draining resources." This is a favorite trope of Carson's. He trotted it out in Houston earlier this year, claiming that 100,000 Houstonians were waiting for public housing, thwarted in part by undocumented immigrants.

HUD's own analysis, however, found that nationwide only about 25,000 households of the 1.2 million people who live in public housing have someone undocumented living there. (Undocumented individuals are not eligible for direct assistance from the federal government, including public housing.) There's simply no way that undocumented people are at the root of the lack of housing availability in California.

Trump's real problem with homelessness in California seems to be that he perceives it as an affront to rich people that want to live there, which he tried to explain in his typically incoherent way: "But we have people living in our… best highways our best streets, our best entrances to buildings and pay tremendous taxes, where people in those buildings pay tremendous taxes, where they went to those locations because of the prestige."

Late Wednesday night, Trump took his battle with California and its homeless population one step further, saying he would have the Environmental Protection Agency issue a "notice of violation" to the city of San Francisco. Why? Because according to Trump, the city's homeless population of around 8,000 people is responsible for a significant uptick in ocean pollution "because of waste, including needles going through storm sewers."

It isn't even clear what sort of notice of violation the EPA would issue. It's a civil action, and they're typically sent to companies, not cities — Volkswagen got one when it doctored its cars so it would appear they passed emission tests, for example.

In the end, Trump doesn't care about homeless people, and nothing he is proposing would help people living on the streets. It's just a way for him to score points against Democrats in California — a petty and vindictive attack by a petty and vindictive man.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.