SWITZERLAND, SEPTEMBER 11 – President Trump has ordered White House officials to launch a sweeping effort to address homelessness in California, citing the state’s growing crisis, according to four government officials aware of the effort.
The planning has intensified in recent weeks. Administration officials have discussed using the federal government to get homeless people off the streets of Los Angeles and other cities and into new government-backed facilities, according to two officials briefed on the planning.
But it is unclear how they could accomplish this and what legal authority they would use. It is also unclear whether the state’s Democratic politicians would cooperate with Trump, who has sought to embarrass them over the homelessness crisis with repeated attacks on their competency.
Trump’s directive is part of his broader effort in recent months to shine a light on problems in California and a number of major U.S. cities, including Baltimore and Chicago. He has complained about what he says are years of failed Democratic leadership that have led to sustained poverty and crime.
Top officials representing the White House and the Department of Housing and Urban Development arrived in California this week for a round of meetings. A particular focus has been the skid row section of Los Angeles, officials said. The president is directly involved with the initiative, officials said, and has asked for updates.
Officials representing the Justice Department were also part of the tour, according to two government officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details they were not authorized to discuss.
Among the ideas under consideration are razing existing tent camps for the homeless, creating new temporary facilities and refurbishing existing government facilities, two other officials said. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the planning hasn’t been publicly revealed. The changes would attempt to give the federal government a larger role in supervising housing and health care for residents.