After President Donald Trump took aim at San Francisco and Los Angeles for their homelessness problems, saying the federal government “may intercede,” Gov. Gavin Newsom dismissed his remarks, saying: “I don’t know what that means. I don’t know that he knows what that means.”
Speaking at an event touting affordable housing in the Bay Area’s Emeryville on Tuesday, Newsom told reporters: “You’ll have to ask [Trump] what ‘interceding’ means. If interceding means cutting budgets to help support services to get people off the street, he’s been very successful, at least advancing those provisions.”
Trump’s 2020 budget proposal released earlier this year proposed sweeping cuts to affordable housing programs.
In a Fox News interview that aired Monday, Trump was asked about “filth” in cities like New York, San Francisco and L.A. He responded with lengthy, meandering remarks, apparently referring to homelessness, saying: “We may do something to get that whole thing cleaned up. It’s inappropriate.”
He singled out Los Angeles and San Francisco, slamming the “liberal establishment,” saying: “You take a look at what’s going on with San Francisco, it’s terrible.”
On Tuesday, Newsom spun the president’s remarks to welcome more federal involvement on homelessness.
“It sounds like the president of the United States recognizes he has work to do on this issue,” Newsom said. “He is apparently committed to some intervention, which is encouraging… I’m looking forward to the details of his plan, and obviously he’s going to have to significantly change his budget.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) similarly said he’d “welcome” any investment from the Trump administration toward the homelessness problem. He told the Los Angeles Times, though, that the president’s comments were “political cheap shots” that “don’t solve difficult problems.”
Homelessness is on the rise across California, including in the Bay Area and Los Angeles County. Los Angeles saw a 12% increase in homeless residents from 2018 to 2019, according to a recent count, and the number of homeless people in San Francisco went up 17% and in Alameda County (which includes Oakland) up 43% since 2017.
Homelessness is a nationwide problem, with more than 500,000 people homeless across the country in 2018. California is at the forefront of the nation’s affordable housing crisis, with almost a quarter of the nation’s homeless residents living in that state alone.