Trump says homeless people are living in 'our best highways' and building entrances and people have told him they want to 'leave the country' over it

Grace Panetta

Associated Press

  • President Donald Trump told reporters on Tuesday upon arriving in California that homeless individuals are ruining "our best highways and our best streets," and some people have told him they want to leave the country over it.

  • The Washington Post has previously reported that the Trump administration is looking for ways the federal government can reduce homelessness in cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco.

  • "We have people living in our… best highways, our best streets, our best entrances to buildings, where people in those buildings pay tremendous taxes," Trump said, according to CNN.

  • The Trump administration was considering federal measures that included razing tent cities and moving homeless people into government buildings, according to the Post.

  • Advocates for the homeless, however, counter that criminalizing homelessness or moving them into government buildings are likely to be unconstitutional and cruel, as well as counterproductive.

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President Donald Trump told reporters on Tuesday upon arriving in California that homeless individuals are ruining "our best highways and our best streets," and some people have told him they want to leave the country over it.

The Washington Post has previously reported that the Trump administration is looking for ways the federal government can intervene and crack down on homelessness in cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, where a lack of affordable housing has worsened the problem.

President Donald Trump arrives at Moffett Federal Airfield to attend a fundraiser, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Mountain View, Calif. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

According to CNN reporter Daniel Dale, Trump said, "we have people living in our… best highways, our best streets, our best entrances to buildings, where people in those buildings pay tremendous taxes, where they went to those locations because of the prestige."

He added: "In many cases, they came from other countries and they moved to Los Angeles or they moved to San Francisco because of the prestige of the city, and all of a sudden they have tents. Hundreds and hundreds of tents and people living at the entrance to their office building."

Trump also claimed — without evidence — that police officers who patrol areas with large concentrations of homeless people are "getting sick" and "going to the hospital," adding, "We can't let that happen."

Read more: The Trump administration says 'humane policing' could be used to reduce homelessness

In a newly-released White House report, Council of Economic Advisers acting chairman Tomas Philipson cited "humane policing" as a tool to reduce the number of homeless people on the streets while not clarifying exactly what "humane" law enforcement activity would entail. Advocates for the homeless, however, counter that criminalizing homelessness or moving them into government buildings are likely to be unconstitutional and cruel, as well as counterproductive.

Trump has frequently weaponized homelessness and crime to insult and criticize the leadership of cities in liberal states like California, and his administration is now trying to partner with local officials in California to tackle the issue.

On September 10, the Post, citing anonymous government officials, reported that the Trump administration was considering federal measures that included, among other things "razing existing tent camps for the homeless" and plans to "move homeless people into "government-backed facilities."

The Post said that top Trump administration officials from the White House and various federal agencies have traveled to California to meet with local officials, further reporting that the group of officials toured a former Federal Aviation Administration facility as a possible site that could house homeless people.

Critics are warning, however, that criminalizing homelessness is a counterproductive strategy, and the administration's reported plans to move the homeless into government facilities and engage in "humane policing" may not be legal or practical.

"Not only is criminalization of homelessness unconstitutional and cruel, it wastes public resources that should otherwise be spent on solutions," National Low Income Housing Coalition director Diane Yentel told Markets Insider.

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