LOS ANGELES – The City Council voted Tuesday to continue a state of emergency on homelessness Tuesday in Los Angeles, reaffirming Mayor Karen Bass’ first official act last month that gives her the ability to confront the crisis more aggressively.
Since the council approved the emergency last month, Bass has signed directives to streamline approval of certain affordable housing projects and initiate a program intended to bring residents of encampments indoors.
Whether to continue the state of emergency will be evaluated monthly by several indicators of progress, including the number of encampments and housing placements, and how much more flexibility city departments are allowed through the declaration.
The declaration is scheduled to last six months.
The last time a mayor declared a local emergency related to homelessness was in 2015 when former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti accessed $100 million to address homelessness.
“We all understand the urgency that this situation requires, and what is at stake,” Garcetti said. “I applaud the Los Angeles City Council for their action today in earmarking a necessary initial investment that helps launch my comprehensive plan to tackle homelessness.”
There are an estimated 41,980 unhoused people in the city of Los Angeles, up 1.7% from 2020, according to the latest count by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
Bass’ program focusing on encampments, called the Inside Safe Initiative, will work to identify the “highest need encampments” that have a chronic and high demand for services, according to the directive. Using citywide coordination between various departments and agencies, the action plan calls for identifying interim housing and eventually permanent housing resources for each person living in the encampments.
Under Bass’ first directive on streamlining project approval, city departments must conduct all reviews and issue approvals for 100% affordable housing projects within 60 days. Once construction starts, the utility permitting and certificate of occupancy process must be completed within five days for affordable housing units and two days for temporary housing.
2UrbanGirls contributed to this report.