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Housing and Homelessness

Powerful LA County Supes Pledge Support for LA Mayor Bass on Homelessness Crisis — Amid Hints of Dissent

Three people wear bright yellow vests that read: Greater Los Angeles Homeless County Volunteer
Volunteers head into the night on the first night of the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count in Covina in February. L.A. County supervisors have voted to support iniatives by Karen Bass, L.A.'s new mayor.
(Frederic J. Brown
/
AFP via Getty Images)
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In a mostly symbolic move, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously voted to support Mayor Karen Bass’ new initiatives to reduce homelessness.

At the same time, there were signs of concern over robbing resources from some of the other 87 cities in the county to help the city of Los Angeles.

“I know my colleagues and I have heard from other cities who are a little bit concerned that this might mean taking away resources from them,” Supervisor Janice Hahn said shortly before Bass addressed the board. “But I am going to push back a little bit on that idea.”

A Call For Other Cities To Step Up

Hahn pointed out that about 56% of the county’s estimated 70,000 unsheltered people live in the city of L.A. and she challenged other cities in her district to “step up to the plate.”

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If a city builds a shelter or affordable housing, “I’m there to help them with county services,” Hahn said.

It works like this:

  • Cities are responsible for building in their own jurisdictions.
  • The county is responsible for providing social services including mental health and substance abuse services.
  • In unincorporated areas, the county is responsible for both.

“I am very excited about this because I think it sends a very important signal,” Bass told the board in her first appearance before it since being sworn in as mayor earlier this month.

What’s Next

The board’s motion directed county staff to work with the city of L.A. An earlier version including language that said the county would look at “the possibility of redirecting County staff to align with the City’s declaration of emergency,” referring to L.A.

It was removed at the request of Supervisors Hahn and Kathryn Barger, who referred to a report from the county’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Homelessness.

“We were able to hear from all 88 cities in the region and there was no doubt that many view homelessness which requires an emergency-like response,” Barger said, adding that "it’s important to continue a “collaboration supporting our cities’ daily efforts.”

While all supervisors appeared to agree, Supervisor Lindsey Horvath also said “not all of our cities are struggling the same.”

Affordable Housing Remains Major Need

Barger also said it was also important to pay attention to the need for affordable housing in the large swathes of unincorporated areas in the county. She promised to work on the issue.

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“I will lead an initiative to streamline the permitting and entitlement process for all development, especially for housing,” Barger said.

As L.A. Mayor Karen Bass begins her term, tell us what issues feel most urgent to you.