On December 12th of 2022, Karen Bass became the first woman mayor of Los Angeles having bested billionaire-businessman, Republican turned “Democrat” Rick Caruso. On June 12th, the occasion of her six month anniversary in her new role, Mayor Bass sat down for a second conversation with David Bryan on his podcast, Curiosity Invited.
Bass first visited Curiosity Invited during the campaign, when then-candidate Bass identified homelessness as the biggest challenge confronting LA.
“So,” began Bryan, “how are you doing on the homelessness issue?”
On day one of her administration, “I went to LA’s Emergency Operation Center – even before heading to City Hall – and declared “the LA homeless crisis a State of Emergency.” No, not a political stunt. “This allowed me to implement certain policies and free up money to begin immediately getting citizens off the street and into temporary housing.”
“When we were working on these problems 30 years ago, through the Community Coalition,” the mayor reminded Bryan, “there were only a couple of thousand of people on the street. Today there are over 40,000 homeless. Over the years, the city has spent millions of taxpayer dollars on the problem, but without an effective plan for making the fix permanent. We are going to change that.”
Bass has dedicated a billion dollars to address the challenge – ”not simply to move people from the street to temporary and permanent housing, but to deliver the support and services people need to get off the street and return to productive lives.”
But dollars is only part of the difficulties. “The other impediment is the [sometimes nonsensical] bureaucracy.” Imagine asking people forced to live in tents or cars that they “need to prove they’re poor!? Or demanding that they fill out paperwork to obtain current and acceptable identification. Where are you gonna mail the ID, their tents?”
“I’ve spent years working at the legislative policy level to address problems. Of course it’s important. But the immediacy of getting a family off the street and into a home today … It’s incredibly gratifying.”