- Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass announced Tuesday in a public letter the next steps in the city’s plan to develop its unused and underused properties into shelters and permanent housing with on-site services for people experiencing homelessness. The announcement follows Bass’ February executive order requiring city officials to comb through over 3,300 parcels and identify potential properties suitable for such uses.
- The city will initiate a program in July to explore “innovative” strategies to increase affordable housing development on publicly owned land, including time-saving financing alternatives, having one primary developer work across multiple sites and partnership opportunities with regional or state agencies that have vacant or surplus land in the city, the letter says.
- Working groups will be formed over the next six months to develop standards for soliciting development on publicly owned land and identifying available and appropriate land, the letter says.
Recent estimates point to Los Angeles County as having the nation’s largest population of people experiencing homelessness, according to a March report published by consultancy McKinsey and Co.
In the city of Los Angeles, nearly 42,000 people were experiencing homelessness during a 2022 point-in-time count, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. That’s a 1.7% increase from the authority’s previous count in 2020, but it’s much lower than the 32% increase seen between 2018 and 2020 — an improvement the authority attributes to tenant protections and rental assistance during the pandemic.
In her first days in office in December, Bass declared a state of emergency on homelessness and signed an executive order directing the city to speed up the approval process for 100% affordable housing developments. In her Tuesday letter, Bass touted this order as leading to the approval of 12 projects with 865 units in 60 days or less.
Another December executive order from Bass established the “Inside Safe” program, which offers people living in tents and encampments “immediate quality housing and a commitment of services and permanent housing,” according to a December news release. This program has thus far “brought more than 1,200 people inside,” Bass said in her letter.
However, the Los Angeles Times reports Inside Safe has drawn criticism from some grassroots groups for moving residents far away from neighborhoods where they work or have social ties, as well as not providing residents with enough social services and meals once they are moved into motel rooms.
Bass’ Tuesday letter says the city will also continue ongoing work to identify publicly owned sites for developing up to 500 “emergency sleeping cabins,” an effort that is part of California Governor Gavin Newsom’s goal to install 1,200 such temporary housing units statewide.
Bass said in the letter that she will spend the rest of her term trying to make “the disposition and development of City owned land faster, cheaper, and more streamlined, and to innovate in the financing and delivery of affordable housing without reliance on traditional subsidy methods.”
On Wednesday, Bass also joined 12 other mayors of large California cities at a press conference calling on the state to allocate more permanent, ongoing funding to address homelessness.
“While this year’s state budget must be difficult, the need for housing interventions and services must remain a top priority,” Bass said at the conference.