Wave Wire Services
LOS ANGELES — The county Board of Supervisors threw its unanimous support behind Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass’ emergency declaration on homelessness Dec. 20, adopting a motion calling for county staff to work arm-in-arm with city officials to address the issue.
The show of cooperation — with Bass appearing at the county Hall of Administration to address the board — was a marked change from recent legal battles that saw the city and county often at odds while fighting a federal lawsuit demanding more action to address homelessness.
Board of Supervisors Chair Janice Hahn, who introduced the motion along with Supervisor Kathryn Barger, set a more cooperative tone, saying the county will be “the city’s partner.”
“We know this is not the city of L.A.’s problem to solve alone,” Hahn said. “And that is why I particularly appreciate you, Mayor Bass, saying we need to link arms rather than point fingers. I think it’s important that the county be the city’s partner in this new effort.
“We want to be at the table. We need to be at the table. and we know what is needed and how we can help.”
The motion calls for representatives of various county departments to attend all city leadership meetings on homelessness emergency declaration and Bass’ upcoming “Inside Safe” program, which will use master leasing with motels near encampments to house the unsheltered.
The county action also calls for the appointment of county department liaisons to work with city outreach teams and help connect the homeless with county services such as mental health and substance abuse counseling, while also working directly with interim-housing providers in the city to ensure people in such facilities are connected to county services.
Under the motion, the county also agreed to similarly work arm-in-arm with other cities in the county that may declare emergencies on homelessness.
Bass hailed the board for its action, saying the motion sends “a very important signal” about the spirit of cooperation between all government agencies to address the homelessness crisis.
“Each one of you have done significant work in your districts regarding the unhoused, and to have a partnership where we have locked arms between the city and the county, I think it sends a great message not just here but in other cities as well.
“I so look forward to working with you, because the only way we can really solve this is if we are working in complete partnership,” Bass said. “And I will tell you, since I declared the state of emergency, a number of other cities, some in California and some in other states are calling and looking at what we’re doing, and so I think we have an opportunity to show a new way to go about this.”
Barger also chimed in with words of cooperation.
“We’re all in this together,” she said. “None of us are going to solve it alone. I really thank you, Mayor Bass, for using your voice to bring together all 88 cities. And as you said when you were sworn in, it is about working together. Homelessness doesn’t know boundaries. It’s happening throughout our county.”
Bass signed the emergency declaration last week on her first official day in office.
The declaration — which is scheduled to last six months — allows Bass to take more aggressive executive actions to confront the crisis, though the City Council will have to sign off on it every 30 days.
The last time a mayor declared a local emergency related to homelessness was in 1987, when Mayor Tom Bradley cited the effect of winter weather on people experiencing homelessness, according to the declaration. The conditions now, the declaration claimed, are “even more dire.”
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.