LOS ANGELES (2UG) – Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass asked the Black community to ‘step up’ on the prevention of the homeless during the State of Black LA held at USC. on Sept. 13.
“We need to do our own part of this issue,” said Bass. “We need to say that we’re going to bring our faith community together, we’re going to bring our business community together, and that we’re all going to have skin in the game.”
“I really think that our folks need to step up,” Bass said.
The event was hosted by the Los Angeles Urban League and attendees were amongst the “who’s who” of Black Los Angeles.
According to Bass, most of the affordable housing being built is occurring in Council Districts 9 and 10 which are predominantly Black and Brown communities.
“Councilmen Curren Price and Marqueece Harris-Dawson have built a majority of the affordable housing hand have moved people on the streets but we need to have this same energy everywhere because we can’t move everybody to South LA,” said Bass.
However, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, South LA doesn’t lead on where the homeless are located.
The largest concentrations in 2023 continued to be in the Metro (Central) Los Angeles region (26%), South Los Angeles region (19%), and San Fernando Valley region (15%) so why is the housing being predominantly built in South LA?
The City held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Dolores Huerta Apartments in April which remains vacant. It is in Price’s district.
Another $22 million affordable housing project at the intersection of Imperial and Broadway, in Harris-Dawson’s district is nearly two years behind on construction being completed. Construction on the project which is comprised of shipping crates, like the Dolores Huerta Apartments, began in 2020 and was supposed to take one year to complete.
According to UrbanizeLA, the project is a joint venture between Clifford Beers Housing and American Family Housing and is located at 283 W. Imperial Highway – a short distance northeast of Metro’s Harbor Freeway Station.
Links to the staff report on the Housing and Community Investment Department website are disabled.
According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, an estimated 75,518 people experienced homelessness in Los Angeles County in 2023.
A continuing concern, still reflected in the 2023 count, is the percentage of homeless persons who are Black/African American. This racial group represents 32% of the homeless in Los Angeles County as compared to only 8% of the African American population in Los Angeles County overall.
According to Bass the homeless crisis has increased in the early 2000s which is when gentrification started. in Skid Row which is now referred to as the Old Bank District.
Tom Gilmore started converting SRO’s into “lofts” which put many on the street. The momentum exploded around the City as it became desirable to create housing that complimented public transportation. Then Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he envisioned downtown Los Angeles as New York where people didn’t need backyards to maintain a good quality of life. That same rhetoric was recycled in Compton when then-Mayor Aja Brown said she wanted the Hub City to be the “new” Brooklyn.
“Homelessness was an issue then [2000s] but it was in South Central and Skid Row, not citywide,” Bass said.
Bass then urged family members to intervene if a relative was at risk of becoming unhoused.
Also in attendance was Supervisor Holly Mitchell who chimed in on the State of Black LA report that provided grim statistics on the homeless and health issues plaguing the Black community.
“We have the highest rates of obesity and diabetes, the lowest rates of COVID-19 vaccinations and we are less likely to graduate high school and attend college,” Mitchell said.
“I want you to get mad, and not just sit back and accept the troubling data,” Mitchell said.
What wasn’t discussed was how our elected officials intend to address these issues outside of telling the Black community to ‘step up’.
Why are they shifting the blame to the Black community rather than solving the problem as we elected them to do?