Homeless encampments are continually popping up under a major Los Angeles highway, even as Democratic Mayor Karen Bass touts the success of her program to combat the city’s homeless crisis, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.
Roughly a week into her tenure in December 2022, Bass launched the Inside Safe program to move homeless people off of the streets and into temporary, then eventual permanent housing, according to the LA Times. Approximately 47,000 homeless people are currently living in LA, and the city spends more than $1 billion annually to try and address the problem.
Bass’ Inside Safe program has received criticism as homelessness still permeates Los Angeles and those who have temporary housing are struggling to find permanent residency, with some eventually returning to the streets, according to the LA Times.
One of the first areas Bass sought to improve in 2022 was a large encampment under a major highway in Hollywood, according to the LA Times. Bass’ administration and county agencies worked to move 30 homeless people out of the area and into temporary housing.
By the time Bass touted the success of her Inside Safe Program last week, the total number of homeless encampments in that encampment had increased to 40, according to the LA Times. Most of these encampments were either tents or tarps, and at least one was a cardboard construct.
Since Bass’ Inside Safe Program was launched, approximately 1,951 homeless individuals have been moved off the streets out of their encampments, according to the LA Times. However, only 13%, or roughly 1,200, of these individuals have been moved into permanent housing, falling far short of the Bass administration’s goals.
Most of these individuals are residing in hotels, motels or shelters, according to LA Times. Bass’ administration has lease agreements with 46 hotels in Los Angeles and has moved forward with buying out the luxurious Mayfair Hotel for $83 million to serve as temporary housing.
Many of these residents feel that the rules of Bass’ program, like requiring random room checks and bag searches, are too stringent and are considering moving back onto the streets, according to LA Times. Others who are living at motels feel isolated and depressed, as they are not allowed to bring guests into their rooms.
Bass’ administration could soon have to take out more leases if the homeless people living in these residences don’t move into permanent housing soon, according to LA Times.
A $250 million budget was set aside for Bass’ program in 2023, according to LA Times. Roughly 400 of the 1,951 people relocated by the program have now abandoned it entirely, with the vast majority returning to life on the streets.
“Inside Safe is like trying to bail water out of a stream,” Larry Slade, leader of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association homelessness committee, told the LA Times. “That program is an excellent idea, and she is the right person to lead that effort. I am just concerned that we are really just trying to mitigate a tidal wave.”
Bass’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Jake Smith on December 11, 2023