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Trump Administration Focus On Homelessness Met With Cautious Optimism In South Bay

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) -- Ahead of U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson's expected to visit the Bay Area Tuesday to address the homeless issue, Santa Clara County officials and homeless advocates say they would welcome any help from the Trump administration to solve the homeless crisis.

They just don't know if the recent interest in the problem is sincere.

"Trump's talking about 'Let's get the homeless off the streets,' it's disgusting," said Pastor Scott Wagers of the CHAM Deliverance Ministries in San Jose. "The language he uses is inflamatory and it doesn't sound like a real strategy to house people."

Fears are spreading around local homeless camps of a possible government crackdown. David Herrera, who's been homeless off and on for 15 years,  said what homeless people don't want is to be swept and forced to move into a shelter or camp.

"I'd be devastated," Herrera said. "It would be like being in jail. It's like you lose your freedom."

Santa Clara County officials hope that's not the case.

"If all they're saying is lets put everyone into shelters, that will give people a place to sleep, but it won't solve the underlying problem," said Chief Operating Officer Miguel Marquez.

Marquez confirmed that a HUD official came to San Jose on an unannounced fact-finding trip earlier this month.

He said the county asked HUD for more housing choice vouchers, in which the government helps pay the rent for very low-income people so they can get into apartments or other housing.

"Here's a proven way to help.  Increase the number of vouchers they give us.  If they do that it would be sincere and helpful."

Pastor Wagers says it's a wait and see.

"Is that the strategy? The federal government trying to house people? Use their resources?  Or are they going to do something else, a little more draconian?"

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