Bass says LA has placed 21,000 homeless people in temporary housing. This is what that means

(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

Bass says LA has placed 21,000 homeless people in temporary housing. This is what that means

LA Politics, Homepage News

David Zahniser

Dec. 7, 2023

Over the past year, Los Angeles city and county agencies have moved more than 21,000 unhoused Angelenos into temporary housing, motel rooms, shelters, tiny house villages and an assortment of other locations, Mayor Karen Bass said Wednesday.

Bass, who marked the end of her first year in a city office, said the figure shows the progress her administration, working closely with many other government officials, has made to get homeless residents off the streets and into a roof.

“We have shaken up the entire system, a system that was not driven by results,” Bass said during a 90-minute news conference.

How far these efforts will go toward addressing the city’s overall homelessness crisis is still unclear.

Bass said her administration’s strategies have resulted in a reduction in the number of sidewalk encampments in the city. However, these efforts may not translate into a reduction in the overall number of homeless Angelenos.

First, residents placed in temporary housing facilities are defined as homeless, albeit sheltered, in the county’s annual homeless count.

Additionally, the city could see the number of homeless people increase if evictions force a substantial number of residents onto the streets, Bass said.

“I will continue to say this: I am really concerned about the influx” of unhoused residents, she said. “Mainly because of the evictions, especially because of the end of the COVID rent control measures.”

The city had more than 46,000 unhoused residents in January, a 10% increase, according to the region’s annual homelessness count. That count took place shortly after Bass took office.

Last year, while campaigning for mayor, Bass said she would move 17,000 people in during her first year in office. According to figures from Bass’ team, 16,931 homeless residents found their way into temporary housing during the final year of former Mayor Eric Garcetti’s administration.

Under Bass, the city has increased the number of temporary housing placements by 28%. At the same time, a significant number of people have also left these sites.

Of the nearly 22,000 people moved into temporary housing this year, about 7,100 people returned to the streets, reunited with family, entered medical facilities, were incarcerated, died or disappeared from the system, according to figures from LAHSA, de Los Angeles University. Homeless Services Authority.

Bass and LAHSA officials have portrayed their transitional housing work as part of a larger shift away from the idea that homeless Angelenos should not be taken off the streets until an apartment is waiting for them. Waiting for permanent housing to be completed would leave homeless residents vulnerable to disease, crime, hunger and exposure to heat and cold, these officials said.

Leaving people on the streets also results in expensive emergency room visits, hospital stays, emergency calls and lawsuits, homeless services officials say.

‘Why would we keep people unsheltered in tents, instead of sheltered and temporary? [housing]said Va Lecia Adams Kellum, the homeless services chief executive. ‘It’s expensive, yes it is. But it is more expensive for people to remain unprotected.”

Bass has been trying to break the impasse that prevents homeless residents from finding their way out of temporary housing and into permanent housing. She has pursued a series of policies aimed at accelerating the approval and construction of affordable housing.

Over the past year, 3,551 unhoused residents moved into permanent housing, due in part to the completion of projects funded in part by Proposition HHH, a property tax increase passed in 2016. At the same time, real estate developers have proposed more than 9,000 homes. units in 100% affordable housing projects participating in an accelerated approval program initiated by Bass.

While these efforts are showing results, Bass has concluded that many sheltered homeless residents will need to stay in temporary housing for extended periods of time.

The mayor said that when she took office she assumed that a stay in a temporary housing location would last three to six months.

“The reality is…interim will actually mean more than a year and a half to two years,” she said.

On Wednesday, Bass and her team also touted their work in ensuring that 7,717 unhoused residents used housing vouchers to get in this year, up from 5,223 in 2022.

For the time being, municipal officials cannot say how many of the people placed in temporary housing have also used housing vouchers. The assumption is that there is some overlap between these data sets.

LAHSA officials said they are working to improve data collection at their agency.

Meanwhile, Gary Blasi, a law professor emeritus at UCLA who has repeatedly sued the city over its approach to homelessness, gave the mayor positive marks for her work in this area.

“I would say Mayor Bass has accomplished more on homelessness in her first year than any mayor in the last 40 years,” Blasi said.


former president of the National Coalition for the Homeless. “The tragedy is that it took 40 years to get to this point.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Hot Topics

Related Articles