L.A. mayor reports that 14,000 homeless people have moved off the streets

More than 14,000 people experiencing homelessness have been moved off the streets during the first six months of her administration, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass reported Tuesday.


About 30%, or 4,332, acquired permanent housing.


An additional 10,049 people were placed in interim housing through city and county programs from December through May, Bass said — a 27% increase over the same period the year before.


Of those in permanent housing, about a third moved into new housing units, with the rest using subsidies to obtain rental units.


Bass said the housing placements resulted from executive directives she enacted upon entering office, including a state of emergency on homelessness and the launching of the Inside Safe program, which is designed to clear street encampments by moving unhoused people indoors.


“We believe the emergency obviously continues, but we do see a way forward,” Bass said at a press conference at City Hall.


Since Bass took office in mid-December with a promise to house 17,000 people in her first year, homelessness has been at the forefront of her agenda.


In April, she announced that $1.3 billion of her $13 billion proposed budget would go to addressing homelessness, including about $250 million for Inside Safe. Previously, the program had been leasing rooms around the city. Bass’ team has shifted the strategy to purchasing property and is looking to acquire at least eight motels or hotels.


Bass said Tuesday that in her first six months, Inside Safe cleared 19 encampments, with 1,323 people voluntarily moving into temporary housing such as hotels — a slowdown from her first 100 days.


A handout distributed at the City Hall briefing showed photos of streets in Hollywood, Venice, Harbor City and South L.A. before and after they were cleaned. More than 262,000 pounds of waste were said to have been removed.


The handout detailed several challenges to Inside Safe, including the cost of motel rooms, the difficulty of clearing RV encampments and limited capacity to provide services in part because of a lack of healthcare personnel and access to drug treatment as well as homeless service providers already being stretched thin.


“Community-based organizations have been stretched beyond what they’ve been asked to do,” Bass said. “When a person leaves a tent and goes into a hotel, on day one, they should have services, including a physical exam if they’re open to it, and meeting with a social worker.”


As a remedy, Bass said she has hired a director of community health to work with local universities and colleges that can provide nurses, doctors and dentists.


Other solutions to getting more people off the streets were described generally, without detail, in the document: more persistent outreach to overcome resistance from some homeless people to moving indoors, more long-term leasing and more permanent housing to avoid spending money on motel rooms.


Bass said her executive directive to cut red tape had streamlined the processing of more than 8,000 units of new housing in 456 projects that are in the development pipeline.


She said approvals are now being obtained in 37 days as opposed to six months.


The numbers released Tuesday included an update of a report Bass gave after her first 100 days, more than doubling the number of people she initially said had gone indoors. In March, she had reported just under 4,000, a number that was revised to 8,726.


Va Lecia Adams Kellum, chief executive officer of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, said the earlier undercount was due to lag time and the need to verify the data that was entered.


“We didn’t have a full accounting of the people who had been helped,” Kellum said. “The data has been reviewed and corrected, and it gives a true sense of how many people were moved from tents into hotels.”

Article Date: 
Wednesday, June 14, 2023