A day before President Donald Trump’s visit to California, Gov. Gavin Newsom and other elected officials are greeting the president by pushing him to do more on homelessness.
California’s metastasizing homelessness crisis has been both a leading issue for Newsom and a flashpoint in his contentious relationship with the Trump administration. As Trump has mulled a federal intervention, Newsom has repeatedly implored the president to provide support rather than a crackdown and assailed him for cutting aid.
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A letter from Newsom and local leaders reprises that critique, noting that “your Administration proposed significant cuts” to public housing and community block grants. It asks Trump to increase the number and value of housing vouchers and to launch a program encouraging landlords to connect voucher users with housing.
“On behalf of a broad, bipartisan coalition of California’s elected mayors, councilmembers and members of county Board of Supervisors, we invite you to collaborate with us on solutions — tied to federal investments — to address homelessness and housing insecurity,” says the letter to Trump, which was also signed by Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and the respective heads of the California League of Cities and the California State Association of Counties.
“We stand ready to work in partnership with you to address this crisis with serious solutions that will actually help Veterans and other at-risk Americans exit homelessness,” the letter concludes.
In public comments on Monday, Newsom said the “unprecedented” letter fleshed out requests “not with a clenched fist, but with an open hand.”
While Trump will be in California to fundraise, his administration last week dispatched a team to learn about homelessness in Los Angeles. After The Washington Post reported that the administration was contemplating razing encampments or pushing homeless people into federal facilities, Newsom and mayors said Trump should be focused on funding rather than punitive measures.
U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is set to visit California this week as well. A spokesperson did not respond to questions about Carson’s agenda; Newsom said, “I would hope that Ben Carson would read our letter” and “consider the core request” around vouchers.
“The president and secretary Carson have the ability this week by executive fiat” to make a major dent in the numbers of homeless people, Newsom said.