President Donald Trump is sending a team of White House officials to California so they can conduct a sweeping crackdown on homelessness in California.

The planning has intensified in recent weeks. Administration officials have discussed using the federal government to get homeless people off the streets of Los Angeles and other cities 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. It is also unclear whether the state’s Democratic politicians would cooperate with Trump, who has sought to embarrass them over the homelessness crisis with repeated attacks on their competency.

Trump’s directive is part of his broader effort to target California and a number of major U.S. cities in recent months, including Baltimore and Chicago. He has complained about what he says are years of failed Democratic leadership that have led to sustained poverty and crime.

As a Californian, it brings me joy that Trump has not completely written off the state, especially in light of the continuing reports of infectious disease outbreaks. The visit will include a tour of Skid Row in Los Angeles, which is the epicenter of the recent typhus and typhoid cases.

Officials said Trump is directly involved with this initiative and asked for regular updates. Currently, a dozen administration officials are in Los Angeles to assess the extent of the crisis.

The group includes White House, Department of Housing and Urban Development and Domestic Policy Council officials and is led by Ben Hobbs, Trump’s special assistant for domestic policy. They met with members of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s staff and toured skid row downtown, according to sources involved in the meetings.

…Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported Tuesday that the president has called for a “crackdown” on the problem in the state. The story, citing four unnamed government officials, said officials were considering how to move people living on the streets into government facilities. They have also considered clearing homeless encampments as well, the story said.

Los Angeles officials are currently planning to establish more aggressive limitations as to where people can “camp.” Unfortunately for them, the proposed program is likely to be torched by a progressive court.

The visit by White House officials comes as lawmakers in Los Angeles debate a plan barring people from sleeping and camping on streets and sidewalks in more than a quarter of the city. The plan, which could be taken up by the City Council as early as Wednesday, would add to existing rules that put about 15 percent of Los Angeles – mainly its city parks – off-limits at night.

If approved, the plan will almost certainly face numerous legal challenges after a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling from last year found that prosecuting homeless people for sleeping on public property when they have no access to a shelter represented constitutionally prohibited cruel and unusual punishment. But local politicians argue that something needs to be done as they search for a way to build permanent housing for the thousands of homeless people living on the city’s streets.

Citizen activist Scott Presler, who recently led a 12-ton garbage removal drive in Baltimore, is planning a clean-up of Los Angeles on September 21. Presler has just visited the city and was shocked to discover how genuinely awful conditions are.

I sure hope that Trump’s team succeed where our state and local officials have failed miserably.


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