Trump Responds to New York and California Homeless Crises, Says Call and Ask 'Politely' for Help

President Donald Trump responded to California and New York state leaders' claims he'd been withholding homelessness aid by telling their governors to call and ask him "politely" for help.

Trump appeared to confirm California Governor Gavin Newsom's comments earlier this month that the White House and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are "weaponizing and politicizing" the issue of homelessness aid. Both California and New York, who respectively have Democratic governors Newsom and Andrew Cuomo, recently announced multi-million dollar programs to support homeless individuals, families and housing for military veterans. Trump has personally blasted California officials over homeless shelters and people sleeping in streets, which culminated with the abrupt dismissal of U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness Executive Director Matthew Doherty on November 15.

Newsom responded to the Trump administration move by hiring Doherty as California's new national consultant on homelessness issues. Trump's demand for niceties in exchange for aid is eerily reminiscent of accusations made against him in regards to Ukraine, critics have noted.

"California and New York must do something about their TREMENDOUS Homeless problems. They are setting records! If their Governors can't handle the situation, which they should be able to do very easily, they must call and "politely" ask for help. Would be so easy with competence!"

Newsom earlier this month expressed his frustration at the Trump administration and the federal government dragging their feet in response to the state's requests for help. He confirmed the allocation of $650 million to California counties and cities to address homelessness, but complained HUD had not followed through in verifying the physical count of homeless individuals required for funding allocations.

"We are doing this despite the Trump administration's unwillingness to certify the PIT count to allow us to allocate this money," the California governor told The Desert Sun newspaper. "They are weaponizing and politicizing this issue, so we will work around them and provide 75% of the funding while we wait for HUD to verify the count numbers."

Jesse Melgar, a spokesman for Newsom, told USA Today in November that Californians are seeking "real solutions to homelessness instead of political theater and points-scoring...California continues to be ready to engage but the state has not been contacted by federal officials."

"This announcement today is really about humanity," Newsom told The Desert Sun in early December, noting that local government officials are also partially to blame. "It is about lifting people up, not bringing them down."

Trump has repeatedly railed against California leaders including Newsom and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who represents the Bay Area. "The people of San Francisco are fed up and the people of Los Angeles are fed up, and we're looking at it, and we will be doing something about it at the appropriate time," Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One before a September to trip to California.

"We can't let Los Angeles, San Francisco and numerous other cities destroy themselves by allowing what's happening," Trump added.

Few tangible details about Trump's plan to have the federal government step in to deal with homelessness have been released. But a September Council of Economic Advisers report urged the deregulate housing.

On Saturday afternoon, Trump took aim at Cuomo in a tweet:

"So sad to see that New York City and State are falling apart. All they want to do is investigate to make me hate them even more than I should. Governor Cuomo has lost control, and lost his mind. Very bad for the homeless and all!"

In New York, Cuomo has been commended by homelessness activists for his push to curb the state's record-breaking crisis, which saw more than 40,000 homeless New Yorkers at the beginning of his term. Last month, his office announced $56.5 million in state funds for 15 projects aimed at providing homeless individuals, families and veterans housing assistance. Some critics have urged him to push for rent subsidies instead of pressuring MTA transit officials and shelters to deal with the homeless.

Updated 4:24 PM ET with Trump's tweet about Andrew Cuomo.

trump homeless california new york
President Trump told New York and California to "politely" call and ask for homelessness aid that Governor Gavin Newsom previously said he'd been withholding for political purposes. SPENCER PLATT / Staff/Getty Images