A historic first was celebrated in December as Karen Bass took the helm as Mayor of Los Angeles, the first female to hold that post. Alongside many prominent local, State, and national officials and dignitaries, Vice President Kamala Harris officiated the swearing in of the former Democratic congresswoman as she begins her four-year term. Mayor Bass brings significant experience to the job in addition to her years in Congress, including experience as a social worker, a community activist, and a member of the California State Assembly.
The new Mayor announced that homelessness was her #1 priority, and as one of her first acts declared a state of emergency, ratified by City Council, to address the estimated 69,000 people who are experiencing homelessness throughout the County (nearly 42,000 in the City). Comparing homelessness to a national disaster, the Mayor said that under her direction the City would fast track development of new homes, eliminate roadblocks to development, and coordinate the many departments working on the homeless crisis in a similar way to the City’s response to the Northridge Earthquake. She highlighted ideas to expand both permanent and interim housing, including converting City-owned buildings to housing and leasing apartment buildings and motel rooms to bring people inside. During the campaign, she had pledged to create 17,000 housing opportunities for the homeless during her first year and made it a priority to approve new development in every neighborhood. Read the full text of the declaration of the state of emergency here.