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Ben Carson: California homelessness 'at crisis level'

Evie Fordham

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson called out California on Friday for its failure to reduce homelessness despite a nationwide decrease in homelessness.

Rising homelessness in places like California and Oregon threw off other states' improved numbers, leading to an overall increase in homelessness of 2.7 percent in 2019, according to HUD. Homelessness in California increased by 16.4 percent this year — more than the total national increase of every other state combined.

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"As we look across our nation, we see great progress, but we're also seeing a continued increase in street homelessness along our West Coast where the cost of housing is extremely high," Carson said in a statement.

"In fact, homelessness in California is at a crisis level and needs to be addressed by local and state leaders with crisis-like urgency," he said. "Addressing these challenges will require a broader, community-wide response that engages every level of government to compassionately house our fellow citizens who call the streets their home."

California cities have tried many solutions to give people a better place to sleep than the streets. In October, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law allowing city officials and real estate developers to build homeless shelters and other housing in Los Angeles without undergoing environmental review, thus expediting the process.

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Carson wants solutions that address the root causes of homelessness instead of just throwing money at the problem.

"That means taking people off the street and putting them in a location that is safe, but also a location in which we can provide some of the wraparound services because [it's] not just a matter of getting them off the street," Carson told FOX Business' Liz MacDonald earlier in December. "It's a matter of figuring out why you're on the street in the first place."

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An estimated 130,000 people are homeless in California, which is more than any other state in the U.S.

FOX Business' inquiry to Newsom's office was not returned at the time of publication.

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FOX Business' Stephanie Pagones and Blair Shiff contributed to this report.

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