Eyewitness Newsmakers: Mayor Karen Bass delves into plans for homelessness, Metro safety & more

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Sunday, May 14, 2023
Eyewitness Newsmakers: Bass talks homelessness, Metro safety & more
In this episode of Eyewitness Newsmakers with Marc Brown, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass discussed combating homelessness, hiring more city workers and improving safety on the Metro system.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Five months into Los Angeles' state of emergency on homelessness, Mayor Karen Bass is chipping away at the problem. Homeless people are getting housing but some troubling encampments remain or spring up again after they're cleared.

During a taping of Eyewitness Newsmakers with Marc Brown, Mayor Bass discussed the city's Inside Safe program and how it's being used to bring people off the street and into supportive housing.

Finding more permanent housing can be the real challenge, according to Bass. She wants to appeal to landlords to accept tenants who have vouchers for Section 8 housing, and says the city will possibly look into purchasing hotels or motels for more long-term plans.

"That's an example of where we need the city to be involved as a whole. Not just the elected officials," she said. "You can't expect just politicians to solve this problem. Everybody needs to have skin in the game."

Safety on the L.A. Metro is also a concern for the mayor. Bass says 22 people died on the Metro system in the first quarter of 2023 - that's more than the number of people who died on Metro in all of 2022.

"The dominant discussion we're having is about homelessness. It just shows you how profound of a problem it is in our city," Bass said of L.A. Metro Board of Directors meetings.

Because homelessness is seen as a partial factor, Mayor Bass believes the safety issue must be addressed from a law enforcement perspective, as well as a social services perspective. The mayor's other concern is the fact that three different law enforcement agencies govern Metro, depending on where riders are on the track.

"I just have a problem with the notion of three different agencies that approach policing, and approach how they govern Metro, differently. That, to me, doesn't make a lot of sense."

Aside from the different ways Bass hopes to tackle these issues - and others - how can the work get done if there aren't enough city workers to do the job? Are staff shortages slowing the city's response?

With thousands of job vacancies in the city, Mayor Bass is working to get more people hired. She said the city is working with personnel and labor unions to shorten the hiring process. The good-paying, union jobs are in various departments and often come with a pension, Bass said.

"I think one of the biggest problems is that Angelenos are not aware of the vacancies and it takes too long to get hired," she said. "You might apply to work for the city and six months later, you're still in the process. That's what we're working on now."

Watch the full episode of Eyewitness Newsmakers in the media player above for more from Bass.