Trump describes homelessness in cities as 'phenomena that started two years ago'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor The US-Iranian scuffle over a ship is a sideshow to events in the Gulf South Korea: US, North Korea to resume nuclear talks 'soon' MORE lamented the state of American cities in an interview Monday night, describing homelessness as "a phenomena that started two years ago" that is causing public health hazards.

Trump sat for an interview with Tucker CarlsonTucker CarlsonWhy target Tucker Carlson? It's part of the left's war on the right Carlson calls racism one of nation's problems, says people should 'calm down' Trump lashes out at Fox News's Shep Smith, says 'fake news CNN is better' MORE during his trip to South Korea over the weekend. The Fox News host observed that cities in Japan, host of the Group of 20 summit, had "no graffiti" and "no one going to the bathroom on the streets," and said New York City and Los Angeles had a "major problem with filth."

"It’s a phenomena that started two years ago,” said Trump, who took office 2 1/2 years ago. "It’s disgraceful."

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The president described cities in a dire state, claiming police officers are "getting sick just by walking the beat," and some people are "living in hell."

"Although some of them have mental problems where they don’t even know they’re living that way, in fact perhaps they like living that way," he added.

Trump suggested his administration was looking at the issue "very seriously," but offered few specifics on what could be done.

"We may intercede. We may do something to get that whole thing cleaned up," he said. "It's inappropriate. Now, we have to take the people and we have to do something. We're really not very equipped as a government to be doing that kind of work."

Trump claimed that he had helped eliminate the issue in parts of Washington, D.C., "very quickly" by saying "You can't do that."

“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."

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The president at no point mentioned the word "homeless," or "homelessness," but suggested the problems were the fault of "the liberal establishment."

Statistics from The National Alliance to End Homelessness show that the number of individuals experiencing homelessness steadily declined from 2010-2016. The number ticked up by roughly 2,000 people from 2017-2018, according to the group.

The Trump administration has garnered criticism from advocacy groups for its proposals to slash funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which include cuts to affordable housing programs.