LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — President Trump said he is looking at the homeless problem in cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City and considering taking action.
Homelessness has made encampments a familiar sight across Southern California, and with people living on the streets come problems like sidewalks being used as bathrooms, rat infestations and diseases. In an interview with Fox News from Osaka, Japan, the president agreed the “filth” in American cities was “very sad.”
“It’s a phenomena that started two years ago. It’s disgraceful,” Trump said. “You can’t have….where police officers are getting sick just by walking the beat. I mean, they’re getting actually very sick.”
Two officers at the LAPD West Valley station contracted a staph infection from a homeless person in May, while the Pacific station had to be closed due to a bed bugs infestation. Last week, a germ-zapping robot was unveiled at the Central Division station to help protect officers near Skid Row.
“They can’t do that. We cannot ruin our cities,” the president said.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti responded to Trump’s remarks Tuesday during an appearance on KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO, where he said he was actually encouraged by the president’s attention to the issue.
“Any day the president is talking about homelessness is a good day,” Garcetti said. “The only thing I would correct him on … is that he said this started two years ago. … It’s been something that’s been decades in the making, and I welcome federal help. To me this is going to require all hands. I think people are so sick of the political games. So if he (Trump) wants to roll up our sleeves and meet us, I’m ready.”
Pressed on whether he was inviting the president to walk the streets of Los Angeles, Garcetti said, “Absolutely. I would be more than happy to do that.”
Garcetti later told CBSLA’s Dave Lopez he would “welcome [Trump’s] involvement.”
Last month, Garcetti accepted responsibility for city’s response to the worsening homeless situation following the latest data from the county, which showed there were more than 59,000 homeless people countywide, up 12% from last year. The city has more than 36,000, a 16% increase from last year.
On Monday, the Civic Center area around Los Angeles City Hall and Grand Park were cleared for a cleaning, but homeless tents were back up by nightfall. Mayor Eric Garcetti and a coalition of mayors have been calling on Congress to pass the “Ending Homelessness Act,” which would direct $13 billion to help cities provide housing and other vital resources.
The Los Angeles City Council is also considering another $7 million to develop a crisis and bridge housing site in San Pedro, just across from the Port – but it’s a plan that is opposed by many residents. The city opened its first bridge housing site – which offers beds, showers, mental health and other services — in downtown’s El Pueblo District.