The Trump Homelessness Con Job Is Getting Near

Skid row in Los Angeles.Katrina Kochneva/ZUMA

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.

The Washington Post reports that President Trump is close to announcing a plan to “crack down” on homelessness in California. As near as I can tell, though, no one believes that he’s serious about helping the homeless. He just wants a big PR victory that shows what a hellhole Los Angeles and San Francisco are. Presumably they will replace “Chicago” as presidential code for liberal cities with big minority populations that are decaying before our eyes.

The main reason to believe this comes, literally, in the very last paragraph of the Post story:

The federal government has limited options when it comes to homelessness because it does not control local and state zoning laws on housing development, said Salim Furth, a housing expert at the libertarian-leaning Mercatus Center who has worked with the White House on housing policy….“I could imagine them declaring a homelessness emergency in seven cities and dedicate federal land” as an area where people could park RVs or install small units, Furth said. “But the truth is, in housing, there aren’t a lot of federal levers.”

Right. It’s not like Trump can round up the homeless and put them in camps. Nor can he send in troops to toss tear gas grenades all over skid row. In fact, federal officials can’t do much at all. Hell, local officials have way more power than the feds, and even they’re so tightly hemmed in by laws that progress is agonizingly slow.

But of course the feds can do one thing: barnstorm around with news cameras in tow, spouting damning statistics. This, I predict, is about all they’re going to do.

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you'll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you’ll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate