Homeless women sit amid their belongings on a street in downtown Los Angeles, California, on January 8, 2014.
FREDERIC J. BROWN/Getty Images

Trump admin on homeless: ‘We’re not rounding people up or anything yet’

During his remarks to the House Republican Conference last night, Donald Trump suggested Los Angeles and San Francisco are in need of a presidential rescue. “We are going to have to step in and do something about it,” he said, adding, “We can’t allow it. And in the not too distant future, you are going to see we are going to step in.”

Though the president didn’t explicitly use the word “homeless,” that seemed to be what he was referring to last night when he went on to say, “We are going to give them notice. In fact, we gave them notice today. Clean it up. You got to do something. Can’t have it. These are our great American cities and they’re an embarrassment.”

The fact that Trump has taken an interest in homelessness in some of the nation’s largest cities isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There is, however, an obvious follow-up question: what exactly does the president have in mind?

The Washington Post reported yesterday that Trump, according to one senior administration official, has asked aides to figure out “how the hell we can get these people off the streets.” With those vague directions in mind, officials took a look at a specific facility.

A team of Trump administration officials toured a California facility once used by the Federal Aviation Administration this week as they searched for a potential site to relocate homeless people, according to three government officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private tour. […]

The FAA facility toured by administration officials is located in or near Los Angeles, but its precise name or whereabouts – or whether it is a current or former government facility – were not immediately known.

It also remains unclear how the federal government could accomplish getting homeless people off the streets of Los Angeles, or what legal authority officials would use to do so.

I have so many questions. Let’s say the reporting is right, there’s a big FAA facility in Los Angeles, and some Trump administration officials believe it could serve as a place to put homeless people. How is this supposed to work? Would the homeless simply be dropped off at a giant warehouse turned into a makeshift shelter? How would they get there? Which federal agency would enforce such a policy? Would the homeless be forced to stay? Does the administration have the legal authority to do any of this?

One senior administration official told the Post, “We’re not rounding people up or anything yet.”

What exactly did this person mean by “yet”?

Trump is scheduled to visit California on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the Post’s report added that there have been discussions within the administration “about an announcement related to California’s growing homeless problem next week.”

Watch this space.