President Donald Trump spent part of the Christmas holiday attacking California Democrats over the homelessness crisis in their state, adding another volley of tweets to his long-running criticism of one of the state’s most pressing issues.
Trump has directed his administration to examine ways to crack down on the homeless populations in several major cities but has reserved particular frustration for California, whose governor, Gavin Newsom, has positioned the state as a liberal counterbalance to the Trump administration’s policies. Trump frequently portrays the homelessness in the state as emblematic of the “filth” and “rot” in the jurisdictions of California Democrats who oppose him.
On Christmas, the president retweeted a five-day-old criticism of Newsom, a Democrat, and added that the governor “has done a really bad job on taking care of the homeless population in California.”
“If he can’t fix the problem, the Federal Govt. will get involved!” Trump wrote.
On Thursday morning, the president continued his criticism by including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose hometown of San Francisco he recently characterized as a city riddled with homeless people, drugs, needles and disease, as he lashed out against the impeachment proceedings.
Trump tweeted that San Francisco has “rapidly become one of the worst anywhere in the U.S. when it come to the homeless & crime. It has gotten so bad, so fast – she has lost total control and, along with her equally incompetent governor, Gavin Newsom, it is a very sad sight!”
The U.S. homeless population has grown, with the numbers being driven by a spike in California, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced last week. According to a January 2019 survey conducted by a small army of volunteers, California’s homeless population grew by 21,306 people, an increase of more than 16%.
“Homelessness in California is at a crisis level and needs to be addressed by local and state leaders with crisis-like urgency,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in a statement.
Trump and Newsom have sparred for years, serving as each other’s political foils on seemingly every issue, including immigration, wildfires and climate change. But California’s homeless population, which is increasing despite the state pledging billions of dollars to mitigate the crisis, has remained a particular point of contention.
Trump points the finger at Democrats, while Newsom’s administration has blamed the “bureaucratic roadblocks erected by the Trump administration” for the state’s slow progress on the issue.
After the Dec. 19 Democratic presidential debate in Los Angeles, Newsom accused the Trump administration of “playing politics” with the issue of homelessness. The governor said he expected “nothing but mishegas,” a Yiddish word for nonsense, “nothing but division coming and emanating from the folks at HUD at the Trump administration.” These remarks, recorded by Politico’s Carla Marinucci, eventually made their way to Trump on Twitter, resulting in the Christmas attack from his account.
Earlier this month, Newsom announced that cities and jurisdictions in California would be able to apply for hundreds of millions of dollars in emergency funds. The state also dedicated an additional $1 billion in its 2019-2020 budget to fighting homelessness.
At Trump’s request, administration officials have looked into controversial measures targeting California. such as razing homeless encampments or relocating people to government facilities, The Washington Post reported in September.
If the two politicians agree on anything, it’s that California’s homeless population has long been at emergency levels. What they can’t agree on is who’s to blame or how to fix it.