White House Weighs Mixed Xmas Gift to Homeless: Tougher Policing, Federal Shelters

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Photo by Tony Alter via Flickr

The White House is planning decisive new action on homelessness, favoring an approach that involves more aggressive action by law enforcement.

Several measures are in the works, including a rumored executive order assigning new resources to police departments to remove homeless encampments,  reports City Lab. Advocates of the homeless expect the order will also strip housing funds from cities that choose to tolerate these encampments.

It’s one of several efforts being steered by the White House’s Domestic Policy Council and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

On Monday, Housing Secretary Ben Carson met with Houston officials, part of a push for federal action on homelessness that could soon take shape in several cities. The secretary visited an emergency shelter and was slated to tour a former Harris County jail facility in Texas.

Advocates say the government is looking at ways to turn former correctional facilities and federal buildings into shelters, a controversial approach backed by Robert Marbut, the new White House czar on homelessness.

One advocate says HUD has narrowed its focus to a list of 24 cities and states, all of which have large numbers of un-housed people sleeping outside. Most are located on the West Coast, where President Donald Trump has sought to embarrass progressive officials by intervening. Houston has recorded a 54 percent decline since 2011 in homeless people, putting more than 18,000 people into permanent housing.

In Washington, Marbut, who was named director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, has pushed for shelters that set up barriers to treatment. At Haven for Hope, a shelter founded by Marbut in San Antonio, homeless people with substance-abuse problems must sleep outside in an exposed courtyard until they can pass a drug test.

See also: The Revolving Door Between Homelessness and Prison, The Crime Report, Feb. 22,2019

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