Trump on blight of homelessness in U.S. cities: 'It's disgraceful'

President Trump says he is “seriously” considering tackling the blight of homelessness in major American cities — an issue that Trump curiously believes began shortly after he became president.

“It’s a phenomena that started two years ago. It’s disgraceful,” Trump told Fox News host Tucker Carlson in an interview that aired Monday night. “We’re looking at it very seriously because you can’t do that.”

Carlson raised the topic by noting that unlike some U.S. cities, places like Tokyo and Osaka, Japan — where the president recently traveled for the G-20 summit — are “clean.”

“There’s no graffiti. No one going to the bathroom on the street. You don’t see junkies,” Carlson said. “But New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, they’ve got a major problem with filth.”

Trump agreed.

“It’s very sad,” he said.

(Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: AP, Beck Diefenbach/Reuters)
Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: AP, Beck Diefenbach/Reuters

While the number of homeless people in the United States has remained more or less the same since 2016, it has fallen considerably in the last decade. In 2018, there were about 553,000 homeless people, according to data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or nearly 100,000 fewer homeless people in the country than in 2008.

Homelessness in San Francisco and Los Angeles, however, is on the rise.

“You can’t have what’s happening — where police officers are getting sick just by walking the beat,” the president said, perhaps referring to the recent report of a Los Angeles police officer who was diagnosed with typhoid fever.

“I mean, they’re getting actually very sick, where people are getting sick, where the people living there [are] living in hell too,” Trump continued.

The president then relayed an idea homeless advocates say is a myth: that some people choose to be homeless.

“Some of them have mental problems where they don’t even know they’re living that way. In fact, perhaps they like living that way,” he said. “They can’t do that. We cannot ruin our cities.

“People that work in those cities,” Trump continued, “they work in office buildings and to get into the building, they have to walk through a scene that nobody would have believed possible three years ago.”

The president went on to blame the “liberal establishment” for preventing him from cleaning up encampments of homeless people.

“This is what I’m fighting,” he said.

Trump then said he successfully solved the blight burden in the nation’s capital shortly after taking office.

“I had a situation when I first became president, we had certain areas of Washington, D.C., where that was starting to happen, and I ended it very quickly. I said, ‘You can’t do that,’” Trump said. “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. I really believe that it hurts our country.”

Homelessness in Washington, D.C., has dropped 12 percent since 2015, according to the city.

But the problem is personal for the president elsewhere too.

“I own property in San Francisco, so I don’t care except it was so beautiful,” Trump said. “And now areas that you used to think as being, you know, really something very special, you take a look at what’s going on with San Francisco, it’s terrible.

“So we’re looking at it very seriously,” he added. “We may intercede. We may do something to get that whole thing cleaned up. It’s inappropriate. Now, we have to take the people and do something. We have to do something.”


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