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Caitlyn Jenner says her friends are fleeing California because of homeless people

Caitlyn Jenner said in an interview Wednesday that her friends are leaving California because of the growing number of homeless people in the state. Jenner, a Republican, recently announced her candidacy to run for California governor in the upcoming recall election

Jenner, who was speaking from her Malibu airplane hangar, commented on the homelessness crisis in the state during an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity. 

"My friends are leaving California," she said. "Actually, my hangar — the guy right across, he was packing up his hangar and I said, 'Where are you going?' And he says, 'I'm moving to Sedona, Arizona. I can't take it anymore. I can't walk down the streets and see the homeless.'"

Jenner faced criticism on social media from some who deemed her comments out of touch with most Californians.

Congressman Ted Lieu, a Democrat whose district encompasses part of Los Angeles, tweeted, "Dear @Caitlyn_Jenner: California grew by 2.4 million people the last 10 years. Also, unlike you, Dems are focused on the 99% of people who don't own planes or hangars."

"Straight up class warfare. So sad the person with their private jet has to set eyes on the homeless," tweeted Sara Pearl Kenigsberg, a producer and digital strategist who has worked on Democratic campaigns.

Others pointed out the irony of Jenner, who is transgender, appearing to show little empathy for a marginalized community.

"does caitlyn jenner realize that a large percentage of homeless people in LA are trans people who are forced to the brutal margins because they're not multi millionaires like her," tweeted the account for the rock group Eve 6, suggesting, "turn celebrity rehab vacation centers into housing for the homeless."

federal report released in January estimated California's homeless population at 161,548 people as of January 2020, prior to the pandemic, a 7% increase from 2019. According to the the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, California had the biggest jump in people experiencing homelessness from 2019 to 2020. The pandemic only exacerbated the crisis in the state — and across the nation. 

As far as solutions go, Jenner addresses affordable housing and homelessness on her campaign website and proposes removing restrictions and regulations blocking developers, charities and others interested in building affordable housing, but offers few specifics.

The former Olympic athlete also sparked controversy earlier this week in remarks to TMZ, where she supported banning transgender girls from participating in girls' sports — an issue that's being being pursued by Republican lawmakers in numerous states. When asked about it again on Hannity's show, Jenner stood by her comments.

"I think we have to make sure that the integrity of girls' sports is there," Jenner said. "I think that's extremely important." 

Last month, proponents of the recall effort against California's Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom gathered enough valid signatures to trigger a special election. The exact date for the recall election has not yet been set, but will likely be sometime in the fall.

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