Trump to Crack Down on Homelessness in Calif.

President Donald J. Trump

President Donald J. Trump

Los Angeles has seen a 16 percent increase in its homeless population over a year ago - more than 36,000 people live on the streets - according to a recent report.

The news of the trip, first reported by The Washington Post, comes amid renewed criticism from the president of officials' response to California's homelessness epidemic.

The visit by White House officials comes as lawmakers in Los Angeles debate a plan barring people from sleeping and camping on streets and sidewalks in more than a quarter of the city.

One Democratic congressman, Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., criticized Trump's push, saying "yet again this is bravado for Trump's base with no interest in the actual policy experts' recommendations to solve an issue".

At least a dozen Trump administration officials are now in Los Angeles, meeting with Mayor Eric Garcetti's staffers to discuss the issue of homelessness in the city.

Trump previously hinted at potential unilateral federal action over homelessness, telling Fox News that he was "very seriously" considering acting on the issue. "We welcome them and look forward to showing them our work to confront this humanitarian emergency". "It's inappropriate", Trump told Tucker Carlson in July. "We have to do something".

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed off on a $214.8 billion budget in June, authorizing $2.4 billion in spending to address the state's housing and homelessness crisis.

A man holding a bicycle tire outside a tent along a street in San Francisco
A man holding a bicycle tire outside a tent along a street in San Francisco

"Generally speaking, all the major cities have seen incredible increases. It's a crisis in California", Garcia said.

Besides the hygiene initiative, the city has plans to build a bin facility for Skid Row residents to store their belongings, start a cleaning initiative that would hire residents to clean the streets, and construct crisis beds for women in Skid Row at Downtown Women's Center.

But the Trump administration may have already taken actions that have exacerbated the problem, critics allege, such as tightening immigrants' eligibility for federal assistance, which risks putting more families on the streets, Garcia added.

California also lacks a "right to shelter" law that in other states gives homeless people temporary shelters, meaning a large percentage of California's homeless population ends up sleeping on the street or in their vehicles, according to Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a nonprofit group.

"Skid Row" holds about 5,000 homeless people, an 11 percent increase from a year ago, according to statistics published in September by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

Trump has called California a "disgrace to our country" at a rally earlier this year, and has fought with the state's Democratic lawmakers over a number of issues ranging from homelessness to protections for immigrants.

At a rally earlier this year, he said: "What they are doing to our attractive California is a disgrace to our country".