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Ben Carson on Homelessness in California

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Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson has sent this letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom and others in response to their request for more federal dollars to deal with the homelessness problem. His response, in a nutshell, is that California needs to clean up the misguided policies that are aggravating the problem before they ask the feds for more money.

Here are a few of the paragraphs:
Your letter seeks more Federal dollars for California from hardworking American taxpayers but fails to admit that your State and local policies have played a major role in creating the current crisis. If California's homeless population had held in line with overall population trends, America's homeless rate would have decreased. Instead, the opposite has happened, as California's unsheltered homelessness population has skyrocketed as a result of the State's overregulated housing market, its inefficient allocation of resources, and its policies that have weakened law enforcement.
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Compounding the homelessness crisis, California has undercut the ability of police officers to enforce quality-of-life laws, remove encampments, and connect our most vulnerable populations with the supportive services they need to get off the streets. Many communities outside of California have developed robust strategies to partner law enforcement with social workers to actively refer homeless individuals to services. California must provide its dedicated police officers and social service workers with the tools they need to protect the communities they serve and our most vulnerable populations.

California must also address mental health. In 2018, 28 percent of California's homeless suffered from a severe mental illness. Despite this, California has since 1995 divested itself of nearly 30 percent of its acute care psychiatric hospital beds, which limits California's ability to place the mentally ill into these dwindling facilities. The Trump Administration supports providing additional options to individuals whose serious mental illness presents a grave disability and a need for inpatient or assisted outpatient treatment. In November 2018, the Department of Health and Human Services announced new waivers for states to receive additional Federal funding to create new demonstration projects for acute care psychiatric hospitals or residential treatment settings, otherwise known as Institutions of Mental Disease (IMDs), for serious mental illness/serious emotional disturbances (SMl/SED). California, however, has still not applied for an SMl/SED waiver.

Further, illegal and inadmissible aliens are increasing housing demand and draining resources. Instead of protecting the most vulnerable Americans from the economic impacts of illegal immigration, California has doubled down on sanctuary State and city policies and provided benefits to illegal and inadmissible aliens. These policies strain precious resources and reduce housing options for American citizens, especially the needy and those most likely to become homeless.
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The Trump Administration is doing its part. California needs to address the obvious local issues within its control to help address this catastrophe. When California has shown that it is willing to make hard and thoughtful choices to address these issues, the Trump Administration stands ready to support its efforts. I look forward to working with you to end the human tragedy of homelessness, particularly unsheltered homelessness, in the Golden State.

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