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Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass’ strategy to employ wealthy residents to help fund housing for the homeless is garnering support from local business leaders who say it might be the only solution to effectively tackle the growing crisis.

During her State of the City address on Monday, the Democratic mayor highlighted the city’s struggle to house over 40,000 homeless people, declaring that “the crisis on our streets is nothing less than a disaster.”

Bass touted the success of her signature Inside Safe program, which moved over 21,000 homeless people into temporary shelters, according to The Associated Press. She insisted this “strategy” and “system” moving the homeless into temporary housing would eventually end the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles.

LA MAYOR PLEADS FOR WEALTHY TO HELP BUY HOUSING FOR THE HOMELESS: ‘UNPRECEDENTED PARTNERSHIP’

Homeless in Los Angeles

The new program to house the homeless will depend on the “humanity and generosity of the private sector,” Mayor Bass said. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

To do this, Bass asked the wealthy to help “speed up” housing purchases for the homeless as the basis of her new initiative,”LA4LA.”

The new program will depend on the “humanity and generosity of the private sector,” the mayor said. “LA4LA can be a sea change for Los Angeles, an unprecedented partnership to confront this emergency, an example of disrupting the status quo to build a new system to save lives.”

“Right now, we’re working to move past nightly rentals,” she added. “We are asking the most fortunate Angelenos to participate in this effort, with personal, private sector and philanthropic funds – to help us acquire more properties, lower the cost of capital and speed up housing.”

LA HOMELESS CRISIS DEEPENS, ENGULFS CITY IN CHAOS AS MAYOR EMPOWERS HERSELF WITH EMERGENCY DECLARATION

Karen Bass

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass speaks during a press conference at the start of the annual homeless count in the North Hollywood section of Los Angeles on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024.  (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

While some are skeptical that private donations will be enough to fix the problem, other business leaders and local philanthropists are hopeful, arguing that city taxpayers are wary of spending more money to reduce homelessness with little quantifiable progress.

An article by the LA Times titled, “Mayor Bass’ ambitious housing program calls on L.A.’s wealthy. Can she pull it off?” quotes Donna Bojarsky, co-founder of a nonprofit aimed at “reinvigorating LA’s civic identity,” who said people appear to be “a little less cynical” with the LA4LA initiative than they have been with similar efforts in the past.

“She has shown that things can be done,” Bojarsky, said of Bass.

So far, LA4LA has reportedly raised more than $10 million, with former Disney CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, one of LA4LA’s business leaders, donating $300,000, the Times reported. He told the outlet that the initiative relies on “the flexibility of philanthropy to activate housing units fast, for those who need it now.”

Wealthy LA residents and business leaders want to help with the crisis, and they “just need to know how,” HACLA Chief Executive Douglas Guthrie told the Times. “We’re trying to give them avenues to do that.”

The homeless crisis has affected everyone in the city, Bass said, driving away businesses and customers, costing taxpayers city resources and creating safety issues.

Stuart Waldman, president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Assn., told the Times that the initiative is more sensible than taking the issue back to frustrated voters at the ballot box. He anticipates business leaders will step up in support of LA4LA, the outlet wrote.

LA JUDGE, LOCAL OFFICIALS LAUNCH BOLD REVIEW OF CITY’S HOMELESS SERVICE PROVIDER AMID GROWING CRISIS

Gov. Gavin Newsom and homeless people

Gov. Gavin Newsom, left, and people at a homeless encampment in California, right. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images and Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

Waldman referenced Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $6.4 billion ballot measure that passed in March to tackle the state’s spiraling homeless crisis. The measure was approved by 50.2% of nearly 7.2 million voters, a slim majority, which Waldman said is proof of voters’ hesitancy to pour more money into homeless initiatives.

“People are tired and done with it,” Waldman told the Times. “The only way they are going to get any more money is through private donations.”

According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), the city’s leading centralized hub for homeless services, more than 75,500 people were considered homeless in 2023, a 9% increase countywide. In the city, about 46,200 were considered homeless, a 10% increase from the previous year. 

Tents making up a homeless encampment

Tents housing homeless line a street in downtown Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

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Fox News Digital reported that a coalition of business owners and residents in L.A. filed a lawsuit against the city, arguing it did not honor its 2020 settlement agreement that promised it would build thousands of shelters and sweep out homeless encampments.

Last week, the Los Angeles City Council agreed to pay an outside firm $2.2 million to audit its homelessness programs after a request by a federal judge.

Fox News’ Kristine Parks contributed to this report.


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