“Donald Trump is a slumlord who has spent his presidency pushing people into homelessness by taking away health care, food assistance and affordable housing funds,” Scott Wiener, a Democratic state senator from San Francisco, said on Tuesday as the president arrived in the state for a series of fund-raisers and a trip to the border. “He has no credibility on housing and homelessness.”
In fact, Mr. Trump has repeatedly indicated that his frustration with homeless people in some of the country’s major cities has more to do with making sure that others do not have to see them and less to do with concern about the homeless.
“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,” Mr. Trump said before attending one of his fund-raisers in Silicon Valley. “Hundreds and hundreds of tents and people living at the entrance to their office building. And they want to leave.”
Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development, joined Mr. Trump on his trip out West and toured a new public housing development in San Francisco. But Mr. Trump’s comments on Wednesday indicated that he was not satisfied with addressing homelessness the usual way.
Homelessness in the San Francisco Bay Area has surged in recent years. The city of San Francisco has 8,011 homeless people, according to a count conducted this year, a 17 percent increase over 2017, the last time a count was conducted. Other nearby cities have had even larger increases, including San Jose (up 42 percent from two years ago) and Oakland (up 47 percent).
In Los Angeles County, an estimated 59,000 people are homeless, of which about 75 percent of whom are unsheltered, according to a point-in-time count released this year.
One major difference with the East Coast is that a large proportion of homeless in California are unsheltered — nearly 70 percent of the homeless, or about 90,000 people, live on the street.
California, the nation’s most populous state, also has the highest number of homeless in the country, according to 2018 federal data.