The Trump Homelessness Con Job Is Getting Near

Skid row in Los Angeles.Katrina Kochneva/ZUMA

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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.

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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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