President Trump set off a new round of criticism over the homeless crisis gripping cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco but offering few concrete solutions or policy proposals and outright rejecting local requests for federal help.
California Gov. Newsom and local leaders including mayors of the state’s 13 largest cities wrote to Trump this week to ask for more federal funds to expand programs like housing vouchers that help people get off the street into stable living situations.
“We can all agree that homelessness is a national crisis decades in the making that demands action at every level of government – local, state, and federal. In California, state and local governments have ramped up action to lift families out of poverty by investing in behavioral health, affordable housing, and other homeless programs,” they wrote. “In contrast, your Administration has proposed significant cuts to public housing and programs like the Community Development Block Grant.”
In response, HUD Secretary Ben Carson wrote:
“Your letter seeks federal dollars for California from hardworking American taxpayers but fails to admin that your State and local policies have played a major role in the current crisis.
“If California’s homeless population had held in line with overall population trends, America’s homeless rate would have decreased. Instead, the opposite has happened, as California’s unsheltered homelessness population has skyrocketed as a result of the State’s over-regulated housing market, its inefficient allocation of resources, and its policies that have weakened law enforcement.”
Carson says he wrote the letter at the president’s request.
The letter also blames California’s sanctuary policies, saying “illegal and inadmissible aliens are increasing housing demand and draining resources,” and says the Trump administration is addressing the problem by improving border security to reduce drug use.
“The Trump administration is doing its part,” Carson writes in the final part of the letter. “California needs to address the obvious local issues within its control to help address this catastrophe. When California has shown that it is willing to make hard and thoughtful choices to address these issues, the Trump Administration stands ready to support its efforts.”
Earlier in the day Carson told reporters the federal government could start giving preference for housing grants to cities that commit to reduce regulations on developers.
He specifically mentioned rules like requirements for solar panels on new development or limits on having multiple families in one home as regulations that could be lifted to make it easier and cheaper for developers to build and expand affordable housing across the country.
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