White House officials are reportedly preparing a plan for federal intervention in California to save the state from the growing homeless crisis, which state and local officials have been unable — or unwilling — to address.
President Donald Trump has raised the issue for months — often in attacking Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), whose San Francisco district has seen an explosion of homelessness and drug use on the doorstep of massive wealth.
I can’t believe that Nancy Pelosi’s District in San Francisco is in such horrible shape that the City itself is in violation of many sanitary & environmental orders, causing it to owe the Federal Government billions of dollars – and all she works on is Impeachment…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 26, 2019
However, the Trump administration has also hinted for months that it might take action. In September, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Dr. Ben Carson visited Skid Row in Los Angeles and warned that the city could suffer an “epidemic” if endemic diseases took advantage of squalid conditions in homeless encampments. The Washington Post reported at that time that the Trump administration was considering moving homeless people to an unused Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) facility.
The Post reported Thursday that a plan may soon be ready:
The plan is expected to be shown to Trump in coming weeks, officials said, perhaps as soon as next week. Trump will be able to select ideas for how to address the growing homeless problem in several major cities.
One person involved in deliberations said the administration’s plans are likely to target homelessness in Los Angeles and could include repurposing existing federal property, but the exact set of policy options to be presented to the president could not be learned. As part of the talks, officials have also discussed moving homeless people from specific areas and condemning certain properties, though it’s unclear whether those options will make it into the final plan.
The president would likely be on firm legal ground, as Breitbart News noted earlier this year:
The president could invoke the National Emergencies Act of 1976 to declare an emergency, and could also invoke the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act of 1988, which allows a president to override state authorities and bring in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) if “he [the president] determines that an emergency exists for which the primary responsibility for response rests with the United States because the emergency involves a subject area for which, under the Constitution or laws of the United States, the United States exercises exclusive or preeminent responsibility and authority.”
Dr. Drew Pinsky warned earlier this year that L.A. could see an outbreak of bubonic plague — which is endemic in some rodents in the area — unless the homeless crisis were addressed.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.