Hopeful LA Mayor Bass wants to accommodate 15,000 people in first year, end encampments in first term – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Karen Bass, who is running for mayor of Los Angeles, unveiled her homelessness plan on Friday, Jan. 14, in which she set a target of housing 15,000 people in her first year in office, and characterizing homelessness in Los Angeles as a “public health crisis.” ” which had to be addressed with the urgency of a disaster relief effort.

At a press conference held in the lobby of the vacant St. Vincent Medical Center building, she wanted to show she was already at work by announcing that she was urging Governor Gavin Newsom to get a waiver. that would make it easier to fund mental health institutions.

Pointing to the medical center building she chose for the plan’s release, she said such a waiver would allow more than 300 beds to be made available “for those in need.”

“We will not end homelessness unless we address why people are leaving their homes in the first place,” she said. “Drug abuse and mental illness are the two main drivers and here we are in an empty hospital in a dysfunctional system that leaves people out on the streets.”

She added that opening hospital beds is “just one piece of the puzzle”, saying the goal of her plan is to “end street camps” and overall homelessness by the end of her first term to reduce.

“We have a public health emergency, a public health crisis that plays out on the streets of LA every day — a man-made disaster,” she said. “And we must pull out all the stops to save lives and restore our public places and our neighborhoods.”

Bass also said she supports a centralized approach to tackling homelessness in Los Angeles, wants to build both temporary and permanent housing, and would encourage innovative methods of housing construction, and aims to reduce bureaucracy that drives up housing costs. has inflated units to $600,000 per unit — the latter a reference to the cost of units funded by the city’s Proposition HHH bond measure.

She said her plan includes converting not only “shuttered hospitals” like St. Vincent, but also motels, hotels and vacant commercial lots into temporary housing “that respects people’s privacy and individual needs.”

She also said that under her plan she would tackle the “health and social problems” that leave people homeless, saying that “we need to prevent people from losing housing who are currently teetering on the ledge on the brink of eviction. and protect the owners.”

Los Angeles mayoral candidate Congressman Karen Bass shares her policy stance on homelessness during a news conference at the closed St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles, Friday, Jan. 14, 2022. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Bass also pointed to her experience addressing similar issues through the organization she founded, Community Coalition, which focused on addressing “crime and addiction, working with people who were affected and in recovery.”

Her plan also includes outreach teams to provide services and match people with housing, she said.

“As part of my emergency response, I look like an army to do it,” she said.

To reach the goal of housing 15,000 people, she said it would rely in part on funding from the American Rescue Plan, which is allocating enough money to the city to create 3,300 emergency housing vouchers.

Only about 500 vouchers have been issued, so the plan calls for making the process more accessible while also giving landlords — especially “Mom and Dad” — incentives to accept them. Likewise, she plans to apply the same approach to other Section 8 vouchers.

The plan also calls for using LA’s state funding for Project Homekey programs, to create approximately 1,000 permanent units, accelerate the pipeline of projects funded by Proposition HHH, reduce costs, and use government property for temporary projects. and permanent housing.

The process of assessing and clarifying 100% affordable projects would also be carried out within one city unit to accelerate housing creation under the plan.

Bass’s outline also calls for the creation of temporary housing that will meet security needs during the COVID-19 pandemic and which would avoid closure due to the virus, and to explore other types of innovative housing strategies such as master leasing.

Some rivals panned the plan Friday. “I think it’s an exaggeration to call it a plan,” said Bill Carrick, a strategist for the mayoral nominee and the chair of the business chamber in downtown Los Angeles, Jessica Lall.

He said it seemed to share just a set of broad goals with few details at best. He said Lall’s plan was coming.

Carrick also grumbled that Bass, as a congressman, could have done more in her current position to channel more federal money into Los Angeles.

“What is she waiting for?” he asked. “That was a little strange for me.”

Mike Trujillo, a campaign strategist for mayoral candidate and city councilman Joe Buscaino, criticized Bass’s target of 15,000 units for setting the bar too low, saying it falls far short of the people who are homeless in Los Angeles.

He said the target is just 25% of the more than 60,000 people left homeless in Los Angeles County. “In my book, 25% is failure,” he said.

The latest census in 2020 showed that more than 41,000 people were homeless in the city of Los Angeles on any given night.

Buscaino is collecting signatures in support of the launch of a ballot measure that would ban camps across the city.

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