Press: Trump's disappearing homelessness

Press: Trump's disappearing homelessness
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In so many ways, President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' Trump talks to Swedish leader about rapper A$AP Rocky, offers to vouch for his bail Matt Gaetz ahead of Mueller hearing: 'We are going to reelect the president' MORE’s recent foray to the Group of 20 summit was one of the most disastrous foreign trips taken by any American president. He not only demonstrated how clueless he is in conducting foreign policy, he proved how woefully ignorant he is of one of the most serious problems facing American cities today.

On the foreign policy front, Trump totally trashed decades of work done on North Korea by every administration over the past 60 years. Despite three summits between Trump and Kim Jong UnKim Jong Un Majority of voters aren't confident Trump's diplomacy will lead to North Korea denuclearization The Hill's Morning Report - Trump seizes House impeachment vote to rally GOP Trump blasts 2020 Dems during campaign rally MORE, North Korea has not taken one step toward denuclearization — they’ve not shut down one testing site, not destroyed one nuke, in fact they are building more. Yet Trump has thrown in the towel. Instead of demanding denuclearization, the White House now says it will settle for a “freeze.”

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In other words, Trump has now welcomed North Korea and its ruthless leader as the newest member of the world’s nuclear club — which is just what North Korea has always wanted, and which every president since Harry Truman, Republican and Democrat, vowed never to let happen. North Korea can keep all its existing nukes, Trump now says, as long as it doesn’t manufacture any more. As if we can trust them.

On the domestic front, Trump has proved equally clueless. Homelessness may be one of the most serious and long-lasting problems facing American cities, but not for Trump. In a stunningly disjointed interview at the Group of 20 with Fox News anchor Tucker CarlsonTucker CarlsonCNN Democratic debate drawing finishes third in cable news ratings race Berkeley City Council member calls Tucker Carlson 'white supremacist goblin' GOP senator calls Ocasio-Cortez and other freshman congresswomen the 'four horsewomen of the Apocalypse' MORE, Trump insisted homelessness is a brand-new problem, caused by the “liberal establishment” but which he’d already made disappear.

Blissfully ignorant of decades of struggle by mayors, churches, governments and nonprofit organizations to combat homelessness, Trump insisted it’s a “phenomenon that started two years ago.” He’s wrong. As reported by The New York Times, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness — a coalition of 19 federal agencies — has been producing an annual plan to prevent and end homelessness since 1987.

And the problem keeps getting worse. The number of homeless shot up with the Great Recession in 2008, due especially to three factors: the higher cost of housing; the shortage of affordable housing units; and the failure of wages to keep up with rising housing costs. As a result, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reports a growth of 0.3 percent in 2018, with an estimated population homeless population of 552,830.

Of course, we hear more about the homeless population in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, where the number of homeless increased by 16 percent in 2018. But it’s not just the big cities. “Yes, we have a health care crisis in this country,” former HUD secretary and 2020 presidential candidate Julián Castro told me in a recent interview, “but we also have an affordable housing crisis.” Officials in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., found that 40 out of 68 firefighters has to work a second job just to make enough money to pay their rent.

Trump not only downplayed the reality of homelessness nationwide, he actually claimed to have eliminated the problem in Washington, where homelessness is twice the national average, counting 9.3 of every 1,000 residents. But what would you expect of someone who’s never been anywhere in Washington outside the White House, the U.S. Capitol and his own hotel?

Donald Trump professes to admire Abraham Lincoln but, on this and other issues, there’s one bit of advice from Lincoln that Trump seems not to have learned: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.”

Press is host of “The Bill Press Pod.” His Twitter handle is @BillPressPod. He is author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.”