Mayor Bass’ program to move homeless people indoors to launch Tuesday

Dakota Smith, December 18, 2022

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass on Tuesday will launch a city program to move people living in tents on streets into hotel and motel rooms, she said Sunday during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”

“Now it’s not going to address everybody, but it is going to address hopefully a significant number,” Bass told “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd. “We’re going to put them in motels and hotels immediately.”

Bass said the “Inside Safe” program would get “people to move on their own” and wouldn’t involve “sweeps” — a pejorative word used by activists to describe the clearing of encampments by the city.

“This is not coercing people, this is not ticketing or incarcerating people,” Bass said.

Bass’ comments shed more light on the program, which she has talked briefly about in recent weeks. Previously, she said the program would target some of the city’s larger encampments and utilize hotel conversions and master-leasing of buildings.

She also said last week that the first push to bring people indoors from encampments would cost “under $100 million” but didn’t elaborate.

Bass promised during her mayoral campaign to bring urgency to the homelessness crisis in L.A., where some 40,000 people are unhoused. Bass also previously said she would bring about 17,000 people indoors in her first year.

On Monday, Bass announced a state of emergency on homelessness, a declaration that gives her additional power to spend money on facilities and services without going through a competitive bidding process or the City Council.

She also issued a sweeping directive on Friday requiring all departments responsible for processing affordable housing and shelter applications to complete all reviews within 60 days. Such reviews typically take six to nine months, city officials said.

Affordable housing and homeless service providers have applauded Bass’ initiatives, but also cautioned that it remains to be seen how the policies will be implemented.

Bass was asked Sunday on “Meet the Press” what the city will do if people don’t want to move from the streets.

“What we have found in the community organizations that we’re bringing in to do this work is that you can get 95% of the people housed,” Bass said. “People will go. It takes a while. You have to do outreach.”

She also said the Inside Safe program will rely on “lessons that were learned from the pandemic.”

“Some community organizations have been trying to get the city to master-lease out entire hotels and motels for years,” Bass said.

At the end of the “Meet the Press” segment, Bass was asked what metrics should be used to judge her work on homelessness at the end of her four-year term.

“A fair way to judge it would be encampments should be significantly down, if not eliminated,” Bass said. “And there should be housing being built underway at a much more rapid pace. And there should not be 40,000 people who are unhoused. That’s for sure.”