WASHINGTON — The White House has sent a team to California this week for “fact finding” and “learning more about the crisis” of homelessness in Los Angeles, a White House official confirms.
The administration is particularly interested in the shortage of affordable housing and exploring how to lift regulations for development, the White House official said. The Washington Post was first to report on the Trump team heading to Los Angeles.
The move comes in the midst of Trump’s long-standing rocky relationship with California, with the President clashing with the Golden State over not only homelessness but also his spot on the California 2020 ballot and his false claims about state voter fraud.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s staff took Trump administration officials on a tour Tuesday “to learn more about the city’s response to the homelessness crisis,” the mayor’s office said in a statement.
Garcetti’s staff showed the officials “the Unified Homelessness Response Center, the redevelopment of Jordan Downs public housing complex, prefabricated Flyaway Homes, and the St. Andrews Place A Bridge Home shelter recently opened in South L.A.,” according to the statement.
Garcetti told the President in a letter, “If you are committed to working with America’s cities and local leaders to address the national epidemic of homelessness there’s a lot you and your Administration can do.”
The mayor urged Trump to back legislation fighting homelessness, strengthen several Housing and Urban Development programs and reverse HUD’s proposal barring aid to families composed of individuals of different legal statuses “if you and your Administration would like to help Los Angeles and other American cities confront our homelessness crisis.”
Deputy press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement on Tuesday that Trump has directed his team to expand on homelessness policy.
“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.
Deere referenced an executive order that Trump signed in June “to confront the regulatory barriers to affordable housing development, a leading cause of homelessness.”
“President Trump has directed his team to go further and develop a range of policy options for consideration to deal with this tragedy,” he continued.
Trump has slammed homelessness in California repeatedly.
“What they are doing to our beautiful California is a disgrace to our country. It’s a shame,” he said during a campaign rally in Cincinnati last month.
“The world is looking at it. Look at Los Angeles with the tents and the horrible, horrible conditions,” he added. “Look at San Francisco, Look at some of your other cities.”
Trump has also made baseless claims about his professed anti-homelessness initiatives in Washington, comparing the city’s situation to that of California cities. Though the President never used the word “homelessness,” he seemed to suggest that he had taken dramatic action at some point in 2017 to deal with homeless people in Washington.
“You know, I had a situation when I first became President, we had certain areas of Washington, DC, where that was starting to happen, and I ended it very quickly. I said, ‘You can’t do that,’ ” Trump told host Tucker Carlson during a Fox News interview that aired in July.
“When we have leaders of the world coming in to see the President of the United States and they’re riding down a highway, they can’t be looking at that,” he added. “I really believe that it hurts our country. They can’t be looking at scenes like you see in Los Angeles and San Francisco.”
There is no evidence that Trump did anything early in his presidency that “ended” any problem related to homelessness in the nation’s capital.