California Governor Gavin Newsom boasted Thursday about his state’s effort to fight the crisis of homelessness in the state, as President Donald Trump criticized California politicians for the second day in a row for neglecting the problem.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released statistics showing that in the year ending in January 2019, homelessness in the U.S. had rise 2.7% — driven “entirely” by California’s rise of 16.4%. Though homelessness had actually declined in most other states, California had seen a dramatic increase.
Newsom, speaking to Breitbart News in the spin room after the Democrat debate in Los Angeles, admitted that the state was facing a severe problem: “It is an embarrassment, it is unacceptable. And we’ve got to own it, we’ve got to own up and solve it.” But he also told reporters that the Trump administration was to blame because it would not provide more funds for housing, — though many experts say that the problem is caused by mental illness, drug addiction, and other factors that the availability of free or affordable housing, by itself, would not actually resolve.
On Christmas Day, in a belated response to Newsom’s criticism the week before, President Trump tweeted that Newsom had “done a really bad job on taking care of the homeless population in California” and threatened — as he has done before — to “get involved,” presumably using his emergency powers to take over state and local policy.
Trump reiterated his point on Dec. 26, arguing that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) — his main opponent during the ongoing impeachment battle — was neglecting the problem in her home town of San Francisco:
California leads the nation, by far, in both the number of homeless people, and the percentage increase in the homeless population – two terrible stats. Crazy Nancy should focus on that in her very down district, and helping her incompetent governor with the big homeless problem!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 26, 2019
Newsom was mayor of San Francisco from 2004 to 2011, before serving as lieutenant governor from 2011 to 2019.
In response to Trump, Newsom first fired off a personal attack, comparing Trump to the Grinch from Dr. Seuss — a cartoon villain who tries to steal Christmas:
I imagine Trump’s Christmas to be like that scene when the Grinch yells “I’m an idiot!” and his echo yells back “you’re an idiot!!” https://t.co/zntn5LcrFD
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) December 26, 2019
Newsroom then reteweted a tweet from the governor’s office, in which his administration boasted that California “s doing more than ever to tackle the homelessness crisis despite the federal administration’s roadblocks”:
CA is doing more than ever to tackle the homelessness crisis despite the federal administration's roadblocks:
➡️$1B investment including $650M in emergency aid
➡️New legislation to help cities & counties
➡️Homelessness experts to identify solutions + morehttps://t.co/1ZMjC1eSOt
— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) December 27, 2019
The tweet linked to a press statement from early December, announcing the appointment of a statewide expert on homelessness and the availability of $1 billion in state funds for local governments to use to deal with the problem.
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.