From the Coalition on Homelessness

On the tails of the Trump Administration blasting California cities including San Francisco and Los Angeles for the homelessness crisis, and calling for the creation of camps, members of  the Trump administration, including Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson visited San Francisco’s Potrero Hill housing development.   

According to Jennifer Friedenbach, Coalition on Homelessness Executive Director, “Look around any major United States city and one can see people who are suffering as a result of the Trump government’s indifference to poverty and homelessness. Ironically, the government he leads is the very same one that caused this homelessness crisis by cutting the HUD budget by 78% in the early 1980s. Trump is in a position where he can literally ensure every single person, from children to elders in the United States has a safe and decent place to call home.  He has instead cut the HUD budget, increased the military budget, blamed homeless people for his own administration’s deficiencies, conflated Latino immigration with homelessness, and now is proposing to move destitute people into poor camps.”  

A report issued by the Trump Administration is proposing to impose service participation requirements for participants after they have been stabilized in housing. The idea is that after receiving mandatory services, these individuals will then be able to transition into non-subsidized housing.  

This does nothing to expand housing and develop the millions of units of housing needed, and only further exacerbates homelessness by creating barriers to maintaining housing. Service requirements result in increased evictions when individuals are unable to meet those requirements. It also results in poor quality services, as most efficacy of program outcomes are  measured by participant levels, low participation is equivalent to poor services in contract monitoring.   

The Trump Administration in their report has findings in terms of the driving force of homelessness that include:  

(i) the higher price of housing resulting from overregulation of housing markets; 

(ii) the tolerability of sleeping on the street (outside of shelter or housing);

 (iii) the supply of homeless shelters; and

 (iv) the characteristics of individuals in a community that make homelessness more likely.”

None of these are factually based, in fact the opposite could be argued as rising rents would indeed be hamstrung by extensive rent control, but as California prohibits vacancy control, landlords push people out to raise the rents.   The tolerability of sleeping outside may be related to criminalization efforts, but California has a tremendous number of anti-homeless laws that are vigorously enforced, and in terms of weather, in every municipality the overwhelming majority of the homeless population were housed in that same area previous to becoming homeless, belying the magnet effect.  When people are in homeless shelters, they are still homeless. However, this report literally states that homeless shelters attract people out of housing and into shelter – driving up homeless numbers.  Lastly, the characteristics of individuals are not geographically based, it relates to housing capacity; if an individual has a mental illness, and there is housing for that individual, they likely will not be homeless.  

The Coalition on Homelessness is calling on the Trump Administration to halt fake solutions, and instead restore HUD funding to pre-1978 levels adjusted for inflation.  

Fact Check: here in San Francisco, homelessness among Latinos has actually decreased from 22% in 2017 to 18% in 2019, indicating that Latin American immigration is not at all likely responsible for the increase in our homeless population, which is generally related to rising housing costs and lack of federal investment in affordable housing.

The State of Homelessness in America Statement from Trump Administration:


  • “While Federal policies over the past decade have dramatically shifted the program landscape, the evidence does not necessarily indicate that this approach has more successfully reduced homeless populations. The Trump administration has sought to improve on these results by reforming the Housing First approach in the major HUD homeless assistance program that provides competitive funding to CoCs. While the program maintains a commitment to providing housing with no preconditions to program participants, the latest 2019 Notice of Funding Availability allows communities flexibility to impose service participation requirements for participants after they have been stabilized in housing. This reform will allow for greater local flexibility and innovation to drive successful outcomes for vulnerable homeless individuals. Moreover, to the extent that better results for homeless individuals allow them to more quickly transition to private housing, homeless assistance programs can be more quickly freed up to serve homeless people still living on the street. In conjunction with this reform, HUD has also strengthened its emphasis on self sufficiency as a  key component of homeless assistance programs. Increasing employment and income of homeless individuals can reduce durations of homelessness and increase stabilization in housing after exiting homelessness. These reforms may more successfully reduce homelessness and address the underlying problems that people experiencing homelessness face.”