Ben Carson on California homelessness: Local governments must take responsibility

Trump admin spars with California, New York over crisis response

U.S. Housing and Development Secretary Ben Carson called Monday for lawmakers in California and other states contending with long-term homelessness to set aside politics and step up their efforts to combat the crisis.

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The Trump administration has traded barbs with local politicians in California and New York in recent weeks over widespread homelessness in the states. Carson was critical of California’s response to the crisis during an appearance on an interview with FOX Business Network’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” arguing that a 16.4 percent increase in homelessness within the state have driven up the national average by more than two percent, even as the average rate across the other 49 states declined.

“In many cases, they are people who are incapable of taking care of themselves. In other cases, they’re people who have fallen on hard times,” Carson said. “In either case, we do have the ability to take care of them, but it should be recognized that this is a state and local government responsibility. It is not the responsibility of the federal government."

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Released earlier this month, the HUD’s 2019 Annual Homelessness Report noted that homelessness in California increased by more than 21,000 people this year. The report found that the trend had reached “a crisis level.”

“The federal government is quite willing to help, however, in these situations, and particularly given the fact that it’s reached crisis proportions in California, but it’s going to require local authorities and the state to cooperate, stop throwing firebombs and wanting to actually get thing done,” Carson added.

President Trump ripped California and New York over their efforts to combat rampant homelessness last Saturday, tweeting that the states were “setting records” and that the federal government would help if their state governors “politely” ask.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio criticized the Trump administration during an interview on Fox News' “America’s News Headquarters” with Ed Henry on Sunday, arguing that Trump should fully fund housing vouchers.

“The problem ultimately is Donald Trump has not shown any willingness to give us the tools we need, most especially Section 8 vouchers, which allow people to live in rental housing," de Blasio said. "That’s the single-strongest piece we need from Washington that we are not getting right now.”

“The federal government needs to help us with Section 8 vouchers,” he added.

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De Blasio said the city has moved 120,000 people from shelters to affordable housing over the past six years. His current plan calls for the elimination of long-term homelessness over the next five years.

Representatives for California Gov. Gavin Newsom also touted the state’s efforts to reduce homelessness, tweeting that progress has been made “despite the federal administration’s roadblocks.”

The state has invested $1 billion into efforts to combat California’s homelessness crisis.

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