President Donald Trump is looking to make a move on addressing America’s homelessness crisis, shirking the advice of advocates in favor of a focus on increasing law enforcement involvement in the issue, according to City Lab.
An executive order could be coming down the pike soon, advocates believe, that would “assign new resources to police departments to remove homeless encampments and even strip housing funds from cities that choose to tolerate these encampments.”
The White House’s Domestic Policy Council is working closely with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on the issue, with Housing Secretary Ben Carson meeting with officials in Houston earlier this month as part of a push for federal action.
The government is looking into repurposing federal buildings and former correctional facilities for housing the homeless, City Lab reported, which is a controversial approach being pushed by Robert Marbut, the White House’s lead on homelessness.
In Houston, where local officials have succeeded in bringing down the homeless population by about 54 percent in recent years, the approach of Housing First has proven to work wonders.
Houston is one of 24 cities singled out by the Trump administration as locations where federal intervention is necessary, and advocates fear federal officials will abandon the Housing First concept in favor of punitive measures. Part of the administration’s problem with cities’ approaches to homelessness involves increasingly visible homeless camps.
“I hope that what [Carson] takes away is that if you really turn all your resources to permanent housing and ending homelessness, instead of managing the condition of homelessness, it can have dramatic results,” said Eva Thibeaudeau, CEO of Temenos, “a community development corporation that operates about 140 performance supporting housing units in Houston.”
Many advocates also fear that rather than meaningfully address the many underlying issues involved in homelessness, the Trump administration is initiating more or less a “crackdown” on Americans living on the streets.
Should Trump attempt an outright ban on encampments or strip funding from groups that follow the Housing First approach, the president might run into trouble with the courts.