California

Fact check: Is Trump right when he says homelessness is a ‘new phenomenon’ in California?

California’s population included nearly 130,000 homeless residents every day as of January 2018, according to a report from the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. More than 10,800 veterans, more than 6,700 families and more than 34,000 people defined as “chronically homeless” were among them.

In an interview aired Monday with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, President Donald Trump said, “We’re looking at it very seriously, we may intercede, we may do something to get that whole thing cleaned up.”

Trump’s remarks came up as Carlson, a conservative commentator, asked the president about “filth” in American cities as compared to cities in Japan, where Trump was visiting for the G20 Summit.

“They’ve got a major problem with filth,” Carlson said of cities like New York and San Francisco.

Trump said, without evidence, that homelessness like that experienced in the Bay Area is a recent development.

“It’s a phenomenon that started two years ago. It’s very disgraceful,” he said. “We’re looking at it very seriously.”

The idea that homelessness is a new phenomenon is incorrect. California as a whole has grappled with homelessness for years. According to U.S. Housing and Urban Development data, in January 2010, there were estimated to be more than 123,000 homeless people in the state, while the situation was actually worse in January 2017, when there were estimated to be more than 134,000 homeless.

In Sacramento County, homelessness is up 19 percent this year, with 5,570 people counted this year, up more than 1,900 from 2017.

In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti is the subject of a recall campaign as a result of the homeless problem facing that city. The number of homeless people jumped 16 percent over last year, with an estimated 36,300 homeless people in the city.

Trump added, again without evidence, that police officers are getting sick “while walking a beat.”

The president took credit for clearing homeless people out of Washington, D.C., so that they wouldn’t be in the eyesight of visiting world leaders.

“They can’t be looking at scenes like you see in Los Angeles and San Francisco,” Trump said.

The president said that “we have to take the people and do something,” though he did not elaborate on what he had in mind.

“We’ve never had this in our lives before,” Trump said, adding that homelessness is “usually (a problem in) sanctuary cities run by very liberal people and the states are run by very liberal people.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s response? “It sounds like (the president) recognizes he has work to do on this issue,” Politico reported. “He is apparently committed to some intervention, which is encouraging...I applaud his recognition of this as an issue.’‘

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Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for McClatchy. He has covered crime and politics from Interior Alaska to North Dakota’s oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
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