Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti confirmed this afternoon that his office led White House officials on tours today of the city’s homeless response center, the Jordan Downs public housing complex, and an emergency shelter that opened Monday in South LA.
The confirmation came after a report from the Washington Post that the Trump administration is considering putting homeless people into government-backed facilities to get them off the streets of Los Angeles.
The Post story is based on interviews with anonymous sources in the Trump administration. It’s unclear how finalized the plans are, but the story notes that some ideas under consideration include “razing existing tent camps for the homeless, creating new temporary facilities, or refurbishing existing government facilities.”
The Los Angeles Times reports that White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement that “the president wanted his team to be on the ground so that he could begin to develop a plan to address this ‘tragedy.’”
It’s estimated that across the city, 36,300 people are homeless, a population that swelled 16 percent since last year. It’s not a problem specific to the city: 58,936 county residents were experiencing homelessness—up from 52,765 in 2018.
And it’s a highly visible problem: 16,528 people live in cars, vans, or RVs, and 11,086 live in tents and makeshift shelters, according to the Los Angeles County Homeless Services Authority.
This is chilling. @realDonaldTrump wants to "crackdown" on homelessness and put people into "government facilities." We've buried refugee children held hostage in his damn facilities. What inhumane treatment will he sanction for the unhoused? https://t.co/ANg3TrXkX7— Mike Bonin (@mikebonin) September 10, 2019
Trump has slammed Los Angeles officials and Democratic lawmakers in California for the escalating crisis.
In a tweet today, Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin called the proposed federal crackdown “inhumane.”
In a letter the mayor says was “hand-delivered” to Trump officials, Garcetti says reductions in federal funding for the production of new housing have contributed to the crisis. He urges the administration to boost funding for HUD programs and rescind the department’s proposal to cut off federal housing assistance for “mixed-status” families.
“It is clear that no local government, including ours, can address homelessness on our own,” the letter says.
Local homeless advocates argue that more can be done at the city level, and they accuse city leaders of adopting policies that they say criminalize LA’s homeless community. This includes city policies that make it illegal to sleep in vehicles, and new rules that would make it a crime to sit and sleep near parks, freeway overpasses, schools, bike paths, and major tourism venues.
Last month, the city controller released a report that skewered the Los Angeles County Homeless Services Authority for failing to meet seven of nine city goals related to shelter, housing, and treatment for people with substance abuse disorders and mental health needs.