Mayor Bass says housing available, but 'bureaucratic process' prevents unhoused from getting beds

Mayor Bass says housing available, but bureaucracy leaves them empty
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Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said housing for homeless goes unused due to "bureaucratic process."

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- As Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass approaches her first 100 days in office, Bass is sharing what she's learned and where things stand on the centerpiece of her administration, ending homelessness.

"I believe that we have begun to dispel a common myth and that is that the people on the street do not want to leave the street and we are finding success when we go to the encampments, when we talk to people. And it includes several days of outreach. But, you know, there's always a group that's resistant and they say they're not going to leave, but then on move out day, and they see everybody leave, they all go," said Bass.

So far, the Bass administration has cleared 10 homeless encampments located across the city, from South LA to Hollywood, Venice, Beverly Grove and the San Fernando Valley. Under her "Inside Safe" program, 427 people living at those encampments have accepted temporary housing at motels and 20 of those have moved into permanent housing. Bass campaigned on housing 17,000 people in her first year and Inside Safe is only one component of that.

"I don't feel like I have some magic solution and I don't think it will be solved this year, but I do see a path forward. And that path forward involved the city building on publicly owned property," said Bass. "Stephanie Wiggins has come forward and said METRO has land. The superintendent of schools has come forward to say LAUSD has land. Faith leaders have come forward. If you own an apartment would you please accept a couple of vouchers. If we could just get everybody to accept two because you know, there are a lot of people who are unhoused who have vouchers, they just can't find a land owner that is willing to rent to them."

Bass says a lot of her time in office has been spent identifying barriers to solving homelessness and working to remove them. She says many of those barriers have been put in place by government.

"Just because the units are available, it doesn't mean we can actually get people in the beds because of the bureaucratic process in getting people housed. we actually have hundreds of vacancies," said Bass.

Another issue, the service providers that work to help our unhoused population turn their lives around don't have the capacity to provide the amount of services needed right away, and not every council district has affordable motels to serve as temporary shelters, to limit people being moved far from where their encampments once stood. Bass hasn't been without critics, many of whom exercise their free speech at city council meetings. At times, Bass believes the disruptions have gone too far.

"At the end of the day, you can vilify the council as much as you want, but you did elect them. Somebody voted for them. For our democracy to work, it's best for people to be allowed to do their jobs. When I watch the public comment and I see people being cussed out. I just, you know, maybe they feel better after doing that, but it really doesn't move the needle forward," said Bass.

At the end of January, Bass reappointed LAPD Chief Michel Moore to a second term, a controversial move that angered activists including Black Lives Matter. One of Bass's expectations of Chief Moore is that the department and the city build out mental health capacity. Last week, the police union proposed 28 service calls that LAPD officers would no longer respond to and instead an unarmed response unit would be the first on scene. But, the mayor doesn't support this proposal.

"When I read all 28 examples, if we did all of that, I don't think the city would be safe. I'm a big believer in different responses especially in regards to mental health. Before you did this, you have to have the capacity. To just say I'm going to stop doing it with nobody else to take your place. I mean, right now we don't have enough mental health providers so who's going to do the work?, said Bass.