Bass says 4,000 will be housed in their first 100 days
- US News
- March 16, 2023
- No Comment
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said Wednesday that she expects the city to have more than 4,000 homeless Angelenos by her 100th day in office.
Bass, who appeared with her team at a City Hall discussion on homelessness, said she expects about 1,000 of those people will come from her Inside Safe program, which takes homeless people off the streets and into hotels leased by the city and motels checked in. Of the remaining 3,000, the vast majority are benefiting from housing programs put in place before Bass took office, her team said.
The mayor reaches her 100th day on Tuesday.
Inside Safe has visited 13 locations so far, most recently Echo Park and Skid Row. Those operations have brought more than 500 people indoors so far, including 62 who have moved into permanent housing with support services, the mayor’s team said.
By next week, Bass plans to partially reach the 1,000 figure by conducting more storage operations. Additionally, homeless shelters will be relocated to temporary shelters during winter weather, including the LA Grand Hotel, which has served as the city’s homeless facility since the outbreak of COVID-19. The mayor reached an agreement a few weeks ago to keep the hotel open beyond the scheduled January 31 closing date.
According to Bass, the Inside Safe initiative has debunked the idea that people without shelter “don’t want to leave the streets.”
“We’ve met people who have said they don’t want to go,” she said. “But on the move-out day — or move-in day — when the bus comes, even the people who said they’re not going jump on the bus when they see other people going.”
Homelessness has been Bass’ top issue since she took office in mid-December. She has declared a citywide homelessness emergency, commissioned reports on city properties that could be used for new housing, and worked to strengthen ties with her counterparts in the county, state, and federal governments.
During last year’s mayoral campaign, Bass said she would house 17,000 homeless people in her first year, relying on strategies that were expected to cost $292 million.
Sitting next to homeless Tsarina Mercedes Marquez, Bass said her team has also encountered a number of issues over the past three months. In Westlake, her office had to move a group of unhoused residents from a motel after learning there was a serious cockroach problem. On the Westside, her team found that motel prices were often too high – and had to move camp residents to motels in other neighborhoods.
City leaders are still devising a strategy to remove homeless people from the hundreds of RVs that line city streets. One problem, the mayor said, is that many homeless people rent these RVs from private owners. “We haven’t cracked that nut yet, but we’re working on it,” the mayor said.
Speaking to reporters, the mayor’s team said more than 2,700 of the 4,000 housed homeless were helped as a result of decisions made before Bass took office. For example, she said the city has completed 614 units of permanent supportive housing and is relying on funds from Proposition HHH, the $1.2 billion bond measure passed by voters in 2016 — long before Bass arrived at City Hall.
The mayor said 1,336 homeless people have moved into temporary shelters such as tiny home villages. Her team uses 36 of them. Another 775 people were supported through emergency shelter vouchers. Bass said her team is taking responsibility for 143.
Council President Paul Krekorian commended Bass for making homelessness such a priority. “The efforts we make are not the end, they are a beginning,” he said. “And I look forward to further progress in the coming year.”
Earlier this year, Krekorian and his colleagues committed $50 million to Bass’ homeless initiatives. Of that total, more than $4 million has been spent and another $27 million has been allocated, much of it for motels, Bass said.
Some who work closely with homeless Angelenos have expressed reservations about the mayor’s work. Peggy Lee Kennedy, a volunteer with the Venice Justice Committee, said she was concerned that some homeless people were being displaced far from the neighborhoods where they had lived.
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In January, an early inside-safe operation in Venice sent dozens of people to a motel near Hawthorne.
This motel is “not even in the city of LA, that’s unincorporated LA County,” Kennedy said. For those with doctor appointments on the Westside, “that’s about an hour and 40 minutes on the bus or something.”
Bitta Sharma, an organizer with grassroots group Mar Vista Voice, said she too had concerns. In Del Rey, she said, campers were moved from motel to motel and lived in three locations in just six weeks, she said.
“It seemed extremely disorganized from the start,” Sharma said, “and traumatic for the people being transported to hotels.”
Marquez, the homeless czar, said the mayor’s team is still learning as they develop a citywide transitional housing strategy that will serve as a bridge between camps and permanent homes.
“Every day we get stronger and we learn from every mistake, mishap or painful experience that happens,” she said.