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President Trump's praise for Mayor Faulconer draws mixed reactions

Posted at 5:27 PM, Sep 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-20 20:41:26-04

During his visit to San Diego, President Trump took a few moments to heap praise on San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer over his approach to homelessness.

"In the case of San Diego the mayor's doing the right thing, he's doing a good job," Trump said.

The president went on to take aim at Los Angeles and San Francisco.

"It's a total disaster, they're going to ruin those cities," Trump said.

Those comparisons, then echoed Thursday by Housing Secretary Ben Carson in an unpublicized visit to a temporary bridge shelter in San Diego.

"Night and day, difference," Carson said. "I don't want to, you know, have everybody come to San Diego becuase you're doing such a good job, but that's the danger."

Platitudes aside, the city of San Diego still has a population of about five thousand homeless people - around half sleeping on the streets.

A spokeswoman for the mayor said Faulconer has taken a broad approach through temporary bridge shelters, safe parking lots, storage and outreach, with a goal of permanent supportive housing.

But homeless advocate Michael McConnell dismissed Trump's statement as partisan politics. Faulconer and Trump are both Republicans, while leadership in Los Angeles and San Francisco is largely democratic.

"This is all political," McConnell said, adding the city should focus more on permanent solutions. "There's nothing wrong with giving people access to a shelter, but once they're in that shelter that can't be their home. We have to invest in getting them out of the shelter."

But Bob McElroy, who heads Alpha Project and its temporary bridge shelter, said Faulconer deserves praise above other politicians.

"He's doing better than anybody I know," McElroy said.

In a statement, Faulconer said homelessness should not become political.

"We have an action-oriented approach on homelessness in San Diego, and over 40 agencies and cities led by both Republicans and Democrats have come to see our new programs in action," the mayor said. "This isn't a partisan issue, it's about action, and I appreciate that Washington is recognizing our efforts."