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Trump slams homelessness as an aesthetic and 'prestige' problem en route to California fundraising blitz

Flying to California for two days of high-dollar fundraisers, President Trump deplored the state's homelessness problem on Tuesday, telling reporters aboard Air Force One that "we will be doing something about it at the appropriate time." He did not provide specifics, and "it is unclear what legal authority the federal government has to clear the streets and how that might be accomplished," The Washington Post notes, but Trump said he has personally heard complaints from unidentified California residents who find homelessness distasteful and detrimental to property values.

In Los Angeles and San Francisco, homeless people are living on the "best highways, our best streets, our best entrances to buildings," Trump said, "where people in those buildings pay tremendous taxes, where they went to those locations because of the prestige." Trump's Council of Economic Advisers released a report on homelessness in America on Tuesday, faulting building codes, zoning, rent control, historic preservation laws, and other regulations, also apportioning some blame to homeless shelters.

Advocates for reducing homelessness were underwhelmed by Trump's grasp of the issue. So was Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D). If Trump "really cares about solving this crisis, he wouldn't be talking about criminalization over housing, he'd be making dramatic increases in funding for this country's housing safety net," he said, adding that Trump's report treats "this crisis like fodder for a cable news debate." Perhaps coincidentally, the Post adds, "Fox News has aired at least 18 segments on California homelessness in 2019."

Protesters on the route to Trump's Tuesday fundraiser in Silicon Valley noted the disparity between Trump's homelessness comments and his courting of the rich.

Trump is expected to raise $15 million from wealthy California Republicans at his four-meal fundraising swing, a third of that from a dinner at the Beverley Hills home of real estate developer Geoff Palmer. "There's not been a president in living history that is as unpopular in the state of California as Trump," GOP political consultant Mike Madrid tells The Associated Press. "But our money spends the same as everyone else's."