Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass may have a laundry list of goals to achieve during her tenure, but her success will likely be measured by her impact in one area: housing the homeless. This challenge has arisen and lingered, not only in Los Angeles but across the nation. On her first day in office, Dec. 12, 2022, Bass declared a state of emergency on homelessness. A good start, UCLA experts agreed, but more important is what comes next.
Increasing housing supply broadly
Lens is an associate professor of urban planning and public policy and associate faculty director of the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. He researches how policy can address housing market inequities that disproportionately affect low-income families and people of color.
“Mayor Bass has moved swiftly to declare an emergency on homelessness, giving her administration expanded powers to help people into permanent housing. Taking ownership of this issue is the right thing to do, particularly given the obvious political liabilities should things go poorly. My hope is that this attention to homelessness will also lead to meaningful action in increasing housing supply in the broader market. Permanently addressing our homelessness and housing affordability problems depend on this progress.”
Mobilizing labor and community to address crisis
Wong is director of the UCLA Labor Center and an expert on issues related to labor unions, labor relations and immigrant workers. Wong has conducted extensive research on how immigration affects the labor market and immigrant workers in Los Angeles.
“Karen Bass has already made history in Los Angeles in her first 100 days as mayor. Her courageous stand to declare a state of emergency to respond to the homelessness crisis has been replicated by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the city of Long Beach. She has also inspired the Los Angeles labor movement to convene a major homelessness summit to mobilize labor and community organizations to work together with the mayor’s office to address this crisis.”
Yaroslavsky is director of the Los Angeles Initiative at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and an authority on the modern history of Los Angeles and on local politics and government, having served 40 years as an elected official.
“The most important thing Mayor Bass has done in her first hundred days was what she did on day one — declaring a state of emergency on the crisis of L.A.’s unhoused. She took ownership of this issue and demonstrated her willingness to be held accountable for the results. Our region has been yearning for such bold leadership, and it’s what it will take to get out of neutral and move forward.”
Homelessness and public safety
Newton is a lecturer at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and editor-in-chief of the UCLA-based policy magazine Blueprint. An author and longtime journalist, he recently became a columnist for CalMatters writing about Southern California politics and policy.
“Bass came to office vowing to make homelessness her top priority, and her early days certainly reflect that focus. At the same time, she’s been building her City Hall team and has agreed to give LAPD Chief Michel Moore a second term, a decision with potentially long-range consequences for the mayor and her record, especially on crime.”