The mayors of San Francisco and Berkeley responded Wednesday to President Donald Trump’s promise to do “something” about homelessness on his visit to California Wednesday, as well as his threat to nail San Francisco with EPA violations.
Trump was boarding Air Force One as he said, “We can’t let Los Angeles, San Francisco and numerous other cities destroy themselves by allowing what’s happening.”
“The people of San Francisco are fed up and the people of Los Angeles are fed up, and we’re looking at it and we will be doing something about it at the appropriate time,” Trump said.
No further details were provided as to what the Trump administration’s plans may be or when those plans would be enacted.
Trump also said that police officers are getting sick and that tenants want to move because of the problem of people experiencing homelessness.
In a written statement, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin noted that the Trump administration has informally rejected California’s request for housing vouchers, thus circumventing what Arreguin said is the solution to homelessness.
“Rather than reverse the decades of devastating cuts to public housing, the administration has proposed to further criminalize and push people off the streets, inflicting further harm on our most vulnerable,” he stated. “Criminalizing poverty has consistently been proven to be an expensive and ineffective way of addressing homelessness.”
San Francisco Mayor London Breed also responded to the President’s comments. “In San Francisco we are focused on advancing solutions to meet the challenges on our streets, not throwing off ridiculous assertions as we board an airplane to leave the state.”
As he boarded Air Force One, Trump threatened to slap San Francisco with environmental violations sometime in the next week. He said too much waste is going into the city sewer system, especially needles. What the punishment would be for the alleged violations is unclear, but the EPA website states that such violations can result in civil or criminal enforcement action.
In respose, Breed said that San Francisco has a combined sewer system that ensures that all wastewater is treated, and that no debris make it into the bay or ocean.
“If the President wants to talk about homelessness, we are committed to working with our state and federal partners on actual solutions,” Breed said.
“Here in San Francisco we are adding 1,000 new shelter beds by next year, working to pass a $600 million affordable housing bond to create more badly needed housing and dedicating services and treatment for our most vulnerable suffering from mental illness and addiction,” she said. “We will continue to do this work and we look forward to more support from the federal government on solutions that help people exit homelessness.”
Arreguin also expressed a readiness to work with the federal government, citing the need to use a humanitarian approach to address the complex issues that lead to homelessness. “We stand ready to work collaboratively in developing solutions to fix the safety net and lift up our most vulnerable residents,” he said.
The issues Arreguin mentioned were affordable housing, income disparities and mental health.
"We're talking about the single person in the United States who could actually address this problem, and he is sitting around whining about it, complaining about it and not doing what needs to be done to actually address the crisis," said Jenny Friedenbach of the Coalition on Homelessness.
Breed said that on the one hand Trump is restricting the state's ability to reduce auto emmissions, doesn't believe in climate change and has cut funding for the homeless, but on the other hand he suddenly wants to crack down on pollution.