Ben Carson: California homeless crisis must be addressed before it becomes 'major epidemic'

Action must be taken on a federal level before California's homelessness crisis becomes a "major epidemic," Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said on "Fox News @ Night" Tuesday.

Carson was asked by anchor Shannon Bream what steps President Trump plans to take after the president vowed action and said he's considering the creation of a task force to address the problem.

"It's a severe crisis in L.A. and in many parts of California because it's not just a fact that people are out on the street, but you know there's feces on the street, there are all kinds of health hazards there. And this could really blow up into a major epidemic. So we need to do something," said Carson, who recently toured a public housing project in San Francisco.


Carson said the president wants to look at a range of different options, including policing and mental health.

"The police obviously need to be supported because there are many people on the street who are not orderly individuals and they impact upon the freedom that other people have to even walk down the street," he said.

"We must understand that as a nation we have failed a lot of the men mentally incapable people by just throwing them out and not supporting them," Carson continued. "Some people think that that's compassion. But that's not compassion at all. We have to really begin to work with the American Psychiatric Association and some others in terms of what kinds of programs are going to work for these individuals," he said.

Earlier this week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, and several California mayors and county and state officials asked the Trump administration for 50,000 additional vouchers for those most affected by the housing crisis, the Los Angeles Times reported. In the letter signed Monday, they also requested the federal government provide incentives for landlords to accept the housing vouchers.

Carson said more must be done beyond just "throwing money at the problem" and noted that the programs Newsom referred to have not been cut since he's been at HUD. He said in California, the rising cost of housing leads to more and more spending on subsidies.

"So we have to spend more money to take care of the same number of people. That's just not something that's working. ... The median home price in the San Francisco Bay Area is $1.7 million dollars. Who can afford that? So we really need to go to the supply side here. What can we do to create more supply? And if we have adequate supply that will automatically take care of the pricing. Basic economics," he argued.


President Trump said Tuesday he cannot let California cities continue to “destroy themselves” by failing to adequately address homelessness, as state and local officials look reluctantly to the federal government for help in combating the ongoing housing crisis within the nation’s most populated state.

Talking to reporters aboard Air Force One en route in San Francisco, Trump addressed the state's problem with homelessness, saying, "We can't let Los Angeles, San Francisco and numerous other cities destroy themselves by allowing what's happening."

Fox News' Gregg Re contributed to this report.