HUD Secretary: Trump 'Passionate' About Tackling Homelessness

By Susan Jones | September 11, 2019 | 8:15am EDT
A woman pushes a stroller along while a homeless man sleeps in downtown San Francisco's Union Square in California. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)

( - President Donald Trump has sent a team to Los Angeles to investigate the burgeoning problem of homelessness, which California cities seem unwilling or unable to address.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson told Fox New Tuesday night, "The president is very passionate about doing something" to improve the situation:

"Well we've had multiple conversations about the homelessness situation, which seems to be worse in places where there is a lot of regulatory barriers, Carson told Fox's Laura Ingraham.


And California is a poster child for that. And if you go out there and you see some of those people on the street and you talk to them, you know, many of them simply are not capable of taking care of themselves. And, you know, we have to take some responsibility here.

Now, generally, it's the responsibility of the locality, of the city, of the municipality, to take care of people. But if that's not happening, you know, it devolves to another level. So if the city and the state are not taking care of it, the federal government is obviously going to have to do something. And the president is very passionate about doing something.

Carson said Trump "doesn't care" about the politics of this.

"He looks at these people and recognizes that they are American citizens…and we have a responsibility to take care of them. Now, you know, that doesn't mean that we won't work with the localities, and I don't want to say specifically what is going to be done because I don't want to get ahead of it. But obviously, we can't just leave people in those situations.”

According to The New York Times, the administration's fact-finding mission is happening as the president prepares for a trip to California next week.

But tent cities and homelessness are not a sudden concern of Trump's.

In early July, in an interview with Fox News's Tucker Carlson, Trump said he was looking at the out-of-control homelessness situation in California cities "very seriously."

"We may intercede," Trump said at the time. "We may do something to get that whole thing cleaned up. It's inappropriate."

Trump blamed the expanding, filthy homeless camps in San Francisco and Los Angeles on the "liberal establishment." "This is what I'm fighting," he told Carlson.

On Tuesday, Ben Carson said it is necessary to "get to the root cause" of the homeless situation if it's going to improve.

"As I've said before, Tokyo, which has more people than New York City, has no homelessness. Now, you know, one of the left-wing organizations came out and said, ‘Carson said there is no homelessness but there’s actually 0.019 percent’ -- they found two people who were homeless.

“But, you know, we actually have to be serious about dealing with these problems, and it can be done. It's a matter of taking advantage of the tremendous technology we have, removing the barriers."

Part of the problem is the question of where to put homeless people if and when they are removed from their tent cities.

The New York Times on Tuesday quoted Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, as blaming homelessness on "the liberal policies of overregulation, excessive taxation and poor public service delivery," which have increased poverty and public health risks.

Deere noted that President Trump signed an executive order in June to ease affordable housing development, and he is now directing his team "to go further and develop a range of policy options for consideration to deal with this tragedy.”

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