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The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

Mayor Bass strives to address homelessness in LA

TAKING INITIATIVE Mayor Karen Bass speaks to the press at the Wilshire Ebell Theater on Nov. 17.

By Kaylee Chan | Editor in Chief

   In her first month in office, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass has made moves to address the city’s homelessness crisis through the Inside Safe Initiative, which recently launched for people living in homeless encampments in Venice, CA on Jan. 4.

   Inside Safe, which was first implemented in Hollywood at encampments surrounding Cahuenga Pass and the 101 freeway, will now be reaching out to camps located near the intersection of Sunset and Pacific Avenue. The neighborhood is estimated to have a total of 98 homeless residents.

   The program will connect with unhoused people in need and give them access to housing options and other support services. It is centered around five primary goals: “reducing death on LA streets, increasing mental health and substance abuse treatment for encampment residents, eliminating street encampments, promoting long-term housing stability and enhancing the safety and hygiene of LA neighborhoods,” according to the Santa Monica Mirror.

   Inside Safe is a part of a series of actions Bass has put in motion to deal with the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles after she declared a state of emergency on homelessness during her first day in office on Dec. 12, 2022.

   On Jan. 10, in line with Bass’s decision, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion to declare a countywide state of emergency on homelessness as well, according to the LA Times.

   The increased focus on this issue is rooted in the large numbers of people left without homes following the COVID-19 pandemic, with Los Angeles County tracking a total of 69,144 unhoused people in the area in a September 2022 report. About 60 percent of these people reside in the city of Los Angeles itself.

   To address the need for housing in the county, especially as Inside Safe works to put people in homes, Bass also issued Executive Directive 1, which requires the city to “review applications for affordable housing projects within 60 days,” according to NPR.

   In addition, Bass has created a cabinet dedicated specifically to tackling homelessness and evaluating how to proceed with the issue, led by Chief of Housing and Homeless Solutions Mercedes Marquez.

   The cabinet includes representatives from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, the Chief Administrative Officer, and several city departments, according to LAist.

   Though the Inside Safe program is already being implemented, the full plan is still in the works. 

   The Inside Safe Executive Directive calls for the program’s action plan to be fully finalized by Mar. 31.

   In response to concerns about whether these efforts will lead to increased policing of unhoused people, Bass explained that the program was to be centered primarily around giving necessary services to those in need, as opposed to getting rid of them.

   “This is not about cleaning up and clearing out,” said Bass at a news conference on Dec. 21, as reported by Los Angeles Daily News. “Of course, that will happen in the context of it, but this is about outreach to people and getting them housed.”

   Bass’s focus on homelessness was prominent throughout her bid for office last year. According to Fox LA, one of her campaign promises was to “house 15,000 people by the end of her first year, as well as build more temporary, affordable, and permanent housing.”

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Mayor Bass strives to address homelessness in LA