In a recent speech, the mayor of Los Angeles, Karen Bass, emphasised the city’s responsibility to lead the way in addressing the LA homelessness crisis. She recognised that the city must leverage its control over the land it owns to provide housing for those in need in her State of the City remarks, ‘A New LA’.
As part of her Executive Directive Number 3, city staff are working to identify more than 3,000 city-owned properties that can be used for housing. Additionally, the city is taking bold action to preserve and rehabilitate nearly 2,000 units of housing that the Skid Row Housing Trust said they could no longer manage.
However, Bass recognised that LA homelessness is not just about housing. There are many reasons why people fall into homelessness, she said, including economic hardship, substance abuse and mental illness.
In the case of Skid Row, before the properties were put in receivership, three people died in the same building on the same day due to a fentanyl overdose. In the first quarter of 2023 alone, 22 people died on Metro, which is how many people died on Metro in the entire year of 2022.
To address substance abuse and mental illness among the unhoused, Bass is using funds received from the opioid and tobacco settlements to pay for substance abuse treatment beds.
Overcoming homelessness in LA
Bass also recognised that the bureaucratic obstacles that keep people unhoused must be eliminated. The Coordinated Entry System, which determines who is eligible for housing, has become dysfunctional, impractical, and inequitable, leaving Angelenos to suffer in tents, she added. The Council and mayor’s office have passed reforms to fix this system.
Another obstacle that keeps Angelenos in encampments is the lack of apartments that will accept housing vouchers. Bass called on apartment owners to accept vouchers and start with just one unit to earn their trust.
Over the 127 days leading up to the speech, Bass attended ribbon cuttings for hundreds of units of housing because of past efforts by former Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council, and the support of the voters through Measures H and triple H. Bass added that she plans to build on this foundation by building more and building much faster.
Her Executive Directive Number 1 accelerates and lowers the cost of building affordable and temporary housing in LA, covering 360 projects and 8,000 units of desperately needed housing.
The Fast Track Solutions Program is filling funding gaps to make sure those units get built faster and cheaper, breaking new ground on how the city partners with the state and federal government, working with Governor Newsom to deliver 500 units of temporary housing to LA and developing Care Courts and a state-wide ballot initiative to create thousands of mental health treatment beds.
The Biden administration has sent the city and County more than $200m to house people and is working with the city of LA to meet their Strategic Plan to prevent and end homelessness.
[Read more: Nobody walks in LA? Think again.]