Trump Wants to Crack Down on Homeless Camps in California Mostly Because Fox News Told Him To

Trump Wants to Crack Down on Homeless Camps in California Mostly Because Fox News Told Him To

The Washington Post reports that the Trump administration is considering a massive “crackdown” on homelessness in the state of California but finds itself hindered by such niceties as not having the legal authority to do so:

Administration officials have discussed using the federal government to get homeless people off the streets of Los Angeles and other areas and into new government-backed facilities, according to two officials briefed on the planning. But it is unclear how they could accomplish this and what legal authority they would use.

The homelessness crisis in California has been a particular bugaboo for Fox News. The network has made a habit of running information-free packages showing terrible images of the conditions in which the homeless live in cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The purpose of these pieces is not so much to explore the root causes and possible solutions to homelessness. Rather, they are intended to mock the heavily Democratic government of California and its largest cities while confirming the biases of Fox’s conservative audience that liberal governance inevitably ends in disaster. And also to give Jesse Watters the opportunity to bloviate about the issue.

That the homelessness crisis might result from national trends that don’t necessarily conform to any ideology is beside the point. Call it governing to own the liberals.

Among the ideas under consideration is razing existing tent camps for the homeless, creating new temporary facilities, or refurbishing existing government facilities, two officials said. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the planning hasn’t been publicly revealed. The changes would give the federal government a larger role in supervising housing and health care for residents.

Razing camps without making the effort to get the camp’s residents into shelters or permanent housing has proven to be ineffective in fighting the long-term problem of homelessness. So if the administration’s plan is to somehow force cities to raze camps without providing other resources, the problem will remain.

As for increasing the role of the federal government in working on the problem, that will likely not go over well with the conservative policy makers in the administration and Congress.

It’s good for the administration to pay attention to the homelessness crisis. But there is no reason to think it is taking it seriously, or that Donald Trump has the attention span to see it through.

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Gary Legum

Gary Legum has written about politics and culture for Independent Journal Review, Salon, The Daily Beast, Wonkette, AlterNet and McSweeney's, among others. He currently lives in his native state of Virginia.