Trump officials visit LA to take stock of homelessness crisis

Benjamin Oreskes, Dakota Smith, Emily Alpert Reyes and James Queally, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

LOS ANGELES -- Intensifying the focus on California and its homelessness crisis, at least a dozen Trump administration officials are in Los Angeles on a mission to better understand what's playing out in the city and state on the issue.

The visit comes after relentless criticism by President Donald Trump of places like Los Angeles and San Francisco for the large numbers of people who live in squalid conditions on the street.

The group includes officials from the White House, Department of Housing and Urban Development and Domestic Policy Council and is led by Ben Hobbs, Trump's special assistant for domestic policy. They met with members of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti's staff and toured skid row downtown, according to sources involved in the meetings.

The Washington Post, citing four unnamed government officials, reported Tuesday that the president has called for a "crackdown" on the problem in the state. The story said officials are considering how to move people living on the streets into government facilities. They have also considered clearing homeless encampments as well.

In July, Trump suggested that homelessness in West Coast cities -- places run by the "liberal establishment" -- was a problem that has emerged in the last two years. He didn't offer any specific proposals to remedy the crisis, but he did speak at length about how homelessness was ruining cities.

"You take a look at what's going on with San Francisco, it's terrible. So we're looking at it very seriously. We may intercede. We may do something to get that whole thing cleaned up. It's inappropriate," Trump told Fox News.


The White House declined to say whether the federal government was considering such an idea. Deputy press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement that the president wanted his team to be on the ground so that he can begin to develop a plan to address this "tragedy."

"Like many Americans, the president has taken notice of the homelessness 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," Deere said.

Garcetti's spokesman declined to comment on the Post report.

But in a statement, the spokesman, Alex Comisar, said: "Our office learned very recently of the administration's plans to visit L.A. to learn more about our strategies for responding to the homelessness crisis. We welcome them and look forward to showing them our work to confront this humanitarian emergency."


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