LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Saying it’s time to “put politics aside”, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti hosted a delegation of Trump Administration representatives Tuesday as part of an effort to address what he called a homeless “humanitarian crisis”.
As part of the meeting, the mayor accompanied the unidentified delegates on a tour of the city’s Unified Homelessness Response Center, a pair of homeless shelters and the Jordan Downs public housing complex, officials said.
Garcetti then released a public letter to President Trump in which the mayor appeared to strike a cooperative tone, describing homelessness as “a problem that predates your administration and mine.”
“We must put politics aside when it comes to responding to this heartbreaking humanitarian crisis,” Garcetti wrote. “I hope you will provide
the federal assistance that is needed to help cities stop homelessness in America and help our veterans and most vulnerable of citizens. This is our watch. This is our time. This must be done. I look forward to working with you and your administration on this issue.”
“Any day that our nation’s federal leaders are willing to listen to Americans living in our 19,000 local communities across this country about the
challenges that they face is a good day,” he added.
The delegation’s visit comes just months after a Fox News segment in which Trump blamed the homeless crisis on “liberal” Los Angeles and California political leaders were to blame for homelessness and that he may “intercede” to “get that whole thing cleaned up.”
This comes on the heels of a Washington Post report indicating President Trump has ordered a “sweeping crackdown” on homelessness statewide, including discussions on federal involvement “to get homeless people off the streets of Los Angeles and other areas and into new government-backed facilities”, officials told the Post.
Among the proposed plans is an effort to raze existing homeless camps in the city and move people into government-backed facilities, according to the Post.
“There are things the federal government could do,” says Jack Pitney, Professor of Government at Claremont McKenna College, “It could increase housing opportunities. It could increase the availability of group homes for people with mental disabilities. There’s lots of real things the federal government could do but it’s not entirely clear President Trump in interested in doing any of them.”
City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, chair of the city’s homeless and poverty committee, reacted to the report by calling the president’s agenda “concerning”.
“It sounds an awful lot like internment and this administration does not have a good track record,” O’Farrell said, alluding to what he called the government’s policy of putting “children in cages” in U.S. immigration detention centers.
Mario Guerra, Budget Chairman for the California Republican Party, welcomes Trump’s involvement: “If this is a political thing, who cares? We need solutions. We need to fix our problem. The California Legislature has let this problem go.”
In July, Garcetti told CBSLA he would “welcome [Trump’s] involvement” in the issue and “would be more than happy” to invite the president himself to walk the streets of L.A.