WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, sent a letter to Donald J. Trump, President of the United States, taking him to task for his harmful homelessness proposals.
“From day one of your presidency, you have attacked our democracy and now you have set your ire on the 550,000 Americans who on any given night experience homelessness,” the Chairwoman wrote. “Given this deplorable track record, I demand that you provide additional information on your Administration’s recent report, “The State of Homelessness in America,” and your reported plans to unilaterally demolish homeless tent camps and relocate homeless individuals to federally-owned facilities. As you know, homelessness in this country has reached crisis proportions and this effort would be one of the numerous cruel, unlawful, and unpatriotic actions you have taken during what will hopefully be a short-lived presidency.”
Chairwoman Waters has consistently worked to bring attention to the homelessness crisis and put forth proactive solutions to address this important issue.
In February, the Chairwoman convened a hearing entitled, “Homeless in America: Examining the Crisis and Solutions to End Homelessness.” The hearing was the first Financial Services Committee hearing of the 116th Congress and the Committee’s first ever full Committee hearing on the issue of homelessness.
In March, Chairwoman Waters introduced H.R. 1856, the Ending Homelessness Act of 2019, legislation that provides a comprehensive plan to ensure that every person experiencing homelessness in America has a place to call home. This legislation passed out of Committee by a vote of 32-26.
See the full text of the letter to the President below.
The Honorable Donald J. Trump
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500
Your shamelessness knows no bounds. From day one of your presidency, you have attacked our democracy and now you have set your ire on the 550,000 Americans who on any given night experience homelessness. Given this deplorable track record, I demand that you provide additional information on your Administration’s recent report, “The State of Homelessness in America,” and your reported plans to unilaterally demolish homeless tent camps and relocate homeless individuals to federally-owned facilities. As you know, homelessness in this country has reached crisis proportions and this effort would be one of the numerous cruel, unlawful, and unpatriotic actions you have taken during what will hopefully be a short-lived presidency.
To date, your Administration has taken several steps that would increase homelessness in this country, including: proposing to defund key HUD programs, proposing to impose steep rent increases on the lowest income HUD tenants, seeking to evict mixed-status immigrant families living in subsidized housing, increasing the barriers to emergency shelter for LGBTQ individuals experiencing homelessness, and weakening fair housing protections. Your Administration also has implemented cruel and inhumane child separation and detention practices as part of its immigration policies. In light of this record, I am concerned that these newly reported efforts around homelessness are an effort to reduce the appearance rather than the rate of homelessness at the expense of the human and civil rights of people experiencing homelessness.
Your Administration’s report further stokes these concerns by providing an oversimplified and misleading narrative of why homelessness exists in this country and the policies that may be successful in reducing homelessness. For example, the report ignores years of sound research on the efficacy of the Housing First approach in favor of supporting “service participation requirements” that have been proven to act as barriers to not just housing, but also employment, sobriety, higher education, and any number of positive life outcomes. The report also draws erroneous conclusions about the impact of local “right to shelter” policies, suggests that punitive policing tactics are effective in reducing unsheltered homelessness, inflates the impact of regulations on the cost of housing, and minimizes the critical importance of federal programs that invest in housing and supportive services for people experiencing homelessness.
There are over 550,000 people experiencing homelessness in this country, and more than 36,000 people experiencing homelessness in the City of Los Angeles alone on any given night.  I recognize that the homelessness crisis that our nation faces is a humanitarian issue, requiring evidence driven solutions that treat people experiencing homelessness with dignity and respect. That is why I have introduced H.R. 1856, the Ending Homelessness Act of 2019, to provide over $13 billion in funding to comprehensively address the crisis.
While homelessness may not be the headline news story this week, it is a crisis that is currently devastating this country. Members of Congress, state and local officials, and the general public deserve to know about the details of your plan before any action is taken. Please respond to questions below about the details of your efforts on homelessness, particularly in my home state of California.
- What specifically does the Administration plan to do to address homelessness in this country, and in California in particular?
- What assurances can you provide that your plans will not violate the Constitution and federal civil rights laws?
- Does your plan include the renovation of government properties to serve as emergency shelters? If so, where will you obtain the funding to renovate and operate these facilities?
- Does your plan include a long-term strategy to permanently house individuals and families experiencing homelessness?
- Which entities and federal agencies do you expect will carry out this effort? Specifically, what role would the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) play in your effort?
- How do you plan to work with state and local officials and organizations?
- What is your position on my bill, H.R.1856, the Ending Homelessness Act of 2019?