Donald Trump reportedly complained about America’s homeless causing prominent foreign investors to flee the country after threatening a federal crackdown on homelessness in states like California.
Speaking with reporters on Air Force One before his two-day visit to the Golden State, the president lashed out at homeless people who he said were living in the nation’s “best highways, our best streets, our best entrances to buildings … where people in those buildings pay tremendous taxes, where they went to those locations because of the prestige”.
Mr Trump, who described the condition of homelessness in California as “disgusting”, added: “We can’t let Los Angeles, San Francisco and numerous other cities destroy themselves by allowing what’s happening.
“And I’m speaking to tenants — in some cases foreign people, foreign tenants — but they have, where they're tenants in buildings throughout various cities in California, and other places... where they want to leave the country. They can't believe what's happening.
“In many cases, they came from other countries and they moved to Los Angeles or they moved to San Francisco because of the prestige of the city, and all of a sudden they have tents,” he added, according to reporters who flew with the president to California.
The state has among the highest rates of homelessness in the country despite taxpayer-funded efforts and both state and federal initiatives to combat the crisis.
The president has reportedly considered launching a task force to help solve the issue of nationwide homelessness while focusing his criticisms on Democratic-majority states like California, where the administration says policies like its so-called Right to Shelter laws are counterproductive.
Mr Trump went on to claim there were “hundreds and hundreds of tents and people living at the entrance” of office buildings, claiming those people now “want to leave” because of the issue and “the people of San Francisco are fed up, and the people of Los Angeles are fed up".
Before he departed for the trip, Mr Trump told a meeting of House Republicans last week about homelessness: “We are going to have to step in and do something about it.
“We can’t allow it. And in the not too distant future, you are going to see we are going to step in."
The president’s comments came as he was locked in a contentious disagreement with the state over its right to set its own emissions standards.
The Environmental Protection Agency ended the state’s ability to set higher standards for car emissions this week.
The state was previously given permission to set its own regulations in order to deal with poor air quality in cities like Los Angeles.