Touring Los Angeles’ skid row on Tuesday, where more than 4,200 homeless residents are estimated to reside, Republican California gubernatorial candidate John Cox likened the scene to a “third-world country,” The Los Angeles Times reported.
Cox toured the downtown area where officials say more than half the population is unsheltered and drugs, gangs and lawlessness run amok. A recent typhus outbreak in the area has also heightened concerns over sanitation.
“It is absolutely not compassionate to let people live on this street,” Cox told reporters. “This is 21st century California. This is not Bangladesh.”
Cox, who is running against his Democratic rival, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, said he would tackle the problem by funding housing and addiction programs with a combination of public and private funds, The Times reported.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, California’s homeless population stood at more than 134,000 people in 2017 – a nearly 14 percent jump from the previous year.
Cox’s campaign has tried to tie the homeless crisis to Newsom, who was mayor of San Francisco between 2004 and 2011.
"Gavin was mayor (of San Francisco) for eight years. He didn't solve the homeless problem here at all. And it's gotten worse," Cox said during an Oct. 8 radio debate with Newsom.
Newsom in turn, has criticized Cox for being too vague on how he would address the issue.
Cox’s skid row tour coincided with Newsom’s visit to Los Angeles on Tuesday to promote a proposal for a state-run volunteer program to help cover education costs, The Times reported.
When asked about his GOP rival’s tour, Newsom criticized Cox for not supporting the Affordable Care Act, and accused him of pushing policies that “would hurt the same people he claims to help.”
Both candidates for California governor will face up in the November midterm election.