Mayor Bass launches program to bring homeless people indoors

Mayor Bass launches program to bring homeless people indoors

  • US News
  • December 19, 2022
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Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass will launch a city program Tuesday to move people living in tents on the streets into hotel and motel rooms, she said Sunday during an appearance on NBC’s Meet The Press.

“Now it’s not going to appeal to everyone, but hopefully it will appeal to a significant number,” Bass told Meet the Press host Chuck Todd. “We will place them in motels and hotels immediately.”

Bass said the Inside Safe program would “get people moving on their own” and would not involve “sweeps” — a pejorative word used by activists to describe the city’s clearing of camps.

“This is not coercion, this is not ticketing or imprisoning people,” Bass said.

Bass’s comments shed more light on the program, which she has briefly spoken about in recent weeks. Previously, she said the program would target some of the city’s larger warehouses, leveraging hotel conversions and master leasing of buildings.

She also said last week that the first push to bring people from the camps indoors would cost “under $100 million,” but didn’t elaborate.

Bass pledged during her mayoral campaign to urgently address the homelessness crisis in LA, where around 40,000 people are homeless. Bass also previously said she would bring about 17,000 people to the house in her first year.

On Monday, Bass announced a state of emergency for homelessness, a declaration that gives her additional powers to spend money on facilities and services without having to go through a bidding process or city council.

It also issued a comprehensive policy on Friday, asking all departments responsible for processing applications for affordable housing and shelters to complete all reviews within 60 days. Such reviews typically take six to nine months, city officials said.

Affordable housing and service providers for the homeless have welcomed Bass’ initiatives but also warned that it remains to be seen how the guidelines will be implemented.

Bass was asked on Sunday’s Meet the Press what the city will do if people don’t want to get off the streets.

“What we’ve found with the community organizations that we hire to do this work is that 95% of the people can be accommodated,” Bass said. “People will leave. It takes a while. You have to do public relations.”

She also said the Inside Safe program will draw on “lessons learned from the pandemic.”

“Some community organizations have been trying to get the city to rent entire hotels and motels for years,” Bass said.

At the end of the Meet the Press segment, Bass was asked what metrics should be used to assess her work on homelessness at the end of her four-year tenure.

“A fair way of judging this would be that stocks should be significantly reduced, if not eliminated,” Bass said. “And housing construction should progress much faster. And there shouldn’t be 40,000 people without shelter. That’s for sure.”

A woman speaks in a church

Mayor Karen Bass attends service at First AME Church on Sunday, where she shared inspiring actions to help solve the city’s homelessness crisis.

(Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times)

Later Sunday morning, Bass spoke about the Inside Safe program and her other homeless initiatives at the First African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the city’s most prominent congregations.

“Thank you for walking with me to win the election, but now the work begins,” Bass said as many in the community filmed the mayor on their phones. “And I want to ask if you would please continue to pray for me, walk with me, walk with me as we go on this part of the journey.

“Because we need to get the whole town to understand – everyone needs to have skin in this game. Housing must be built everywhere.”

Julia Wick, a Times contributor, contributed to this report.

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