L.A. mayor wants record-breaking $1.3B to tackle homeless crisis

Mayor of Los Angeles Karen Bass speaks onstage during the 2023 ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood Awards at Fairmont Century Plaza on March 09, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for ESSENCE)

OAN Brooke Mallory
UPDATED 11:38 AM – Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass has declared on Monday that she will advocate for allocating a record-breaking $1.3 billion in funding for housing and treatment services for the city’s homeless population next year.


This comes as Bass was elected in November through her platform of tackling the city’s out of control homelessness epidemic

While L.A. searches through its list of properties for those that could be utilized to house homeless people, some of the funding that will be included in the mayor’s next budget could be used to purchase hotels or motels that would be converted to housing.

Approximately four months into her first tenure, the former congresswoman made comments at an annual address to City Council on the current state of the city.

However, Bass (D-Calif.) did not mention how many beds would be funded for substance addiction treatment for the homeless.

Additionally, she added that over 1,000 people have already enrolled in her flagship program called “Inside Safe”, which provides homeless people with motel rooms as well as a route to permanent housing with assistance.

The Biden administration has handed the city and county more than $200 million for homeless programs, and Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) has pledged to provide 500 units of temporary housing to the city.

“After years of frustration, we can see a clearer path to a new Los Angeles… We have finally dispelled the myth that people do not want to come inside. They do,” Bass said.

“I cannot declare that the state of our city is where it needs to be,” she continued.

Bass’ general confidence masks impending difficulties that could drastically alter her time in office.

42nd Mayor Eric Garcetti had signed a budget in 2021 that included roughly $1 billion for homeless funding, but the number of people without homes has continued to rise.

Reportedly, homeless people are living in rusting RVs or trash-strewn encampments along streets, beneath underpasses, and gathered near highway exits in practically every neighborhood.

Half of the house-less population, which is around 40,000 people, are addicted to drugs or alcohol, and a third of them are suffering from severe mental illness. On average, 5 homeless-related deaths occur every day.

Although there are differing views on the economy’s course, some analysts believe that a recession is imminent and that it will reduce local tax revenues at a time when Bass is increasing expenditure on the homeless.

In a recent study, City Controller Kenneth Mejia detailed a number of other issues, such as the need for increased funding for restoring deteriorating sidewalks and roadways, as well as rising pension payments for retirees, which “already consume fully 15% of the city’s general fund budget.”

While the police force has experienced a decline in staffing, crime rates have only been rising, especially regarding shootings and car thefts. Bass sounded the alarm that the number of police officers would fall below 9,000, a figure not seen since 2002.

According to Bass, her budget for the fiscal year (which starts on July 1st) calls for the hiring of hundreds of officers, as well as a recruitment drive and incentives for recent employees. Additionally, it invests extra funds in a group of clinical psychologists and social workers who could react to emergency calls without the need for a police officer.

“We know safety goes far beyond lights and sirens,” she said.

In the November election, Bass defeated businessman Rick Caruso. Bass is the first Black woman to lead Los Angeles and a past candidate for vice president on President Joe Biden’s short list.

Her campaign was centered on removing the homeless from the streets and placing them in shelters in order to halt the rise in violence and create housing that working-class families can afford.

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