President Donald Trump says he wants to address the crisis of people on the streets, telling Fox News in an interview Monday that his administration “may intercede” to clean up cities like Washington, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
The president made the remarks in an interview he taped in Japan with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, after Carlson asked him about cities in Japan, which Carlson said were clean and free from things like graffiti and “junkies.” American cities, by comparison, have a problem with “filth,” Carlson noted.
“It’s disgraceful,” Trump said.
The number of homeless people in the United States has stayed relatively level between 2016 and 2018, ticking up from 550,000 to 553,000 last year. But these numbers represent a significant drop from the numbers in the past decade. An average of 630,000 people experienced homelessness per year between 2007-2012, according to federal data. And an average of 580,000 people were homeless a year between 2012 and 2015.
The president went on at some length, painting a dark picture of life in some American cities without giving specifics for how he’d address the problem.
“Police officers are getting sick just by walking the beat,” he claimed. “We cannot ruin our cities. And you have people that work in those cities. They work in office buildings and to get into the building, they have to walk through a scene that nobody would have believed possible three years ago.”
“We have to take the people,” he said. “And we have to do something.”
Trump did not mention the word “homeless” during the segment, and he did not say how he would address the issue. He did blame liberals and sanctuary cities for the issue.
“When we have leaders of the world coming in to see the president of the United States and they’re riding down a highway, they can’t be looking at that,” he said. “They can’t be looking at scenes like you see in Los Angeles and San Francisco. … So we’re looking at it very seriously. We may intercede. We may do something to get that whole thing cleaned up.”
He also said he personally “ended” some problems in this regard in Washington, but did not elaborate.
“You know, I had a situation when I first became president,” Trump said, “We had certain areas of Washington, D.C., where that was starting to happen, and I ended it very quickly. I said, ‘You can’t do that.’ “
The White House and Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.