When I had the opportunity to engage one of the major candidates for Mayor of Los Angeles, I stated there are only two issues in the race. The first being proper funding and use of the police and the second being the Homeless. The candidate agreed with me and the issues for the June 7th election were defined.
Karen Bass announced her candidacy soon thereafter and took the lead in the polls. She released with great fanfare her own detailed policy on Homelessness. The policy is linked here. I contacted her campaign to query them on what they had proposed, but they were fearful of answering legitimate questions from journalists who were not from sycophantic press outlets.
Their proposed plan left open significant items, to which I asked the following questions:
1. The city, county and state have been spending extensively on this issue. How specifically does your plan differ from what has been done in the last few years?
2. Mayor Garcetti committed close to a billion dollars for the current fiscal year. Can you tell us how much has been spent by the city on the homeless issue during the last four years of the Garcetti administration?
3. Most if not all of us would like to know who Ms. Bass has in mind as the Homeless Chief since this is a critical issue to Los Angeles, so who would that be?
4. The plan calls for ending street encampments in the first year of her term. How exactly are you planning to clear all the encampments which appear more like MASH units moving from property to property?
5. I am working on a homeless issue that involves city, county, and state land. I am getting the runaround about who is responsible to do what. Specifically, how do you plan to remedy this as residents do not care whose land it is within the city’s confines. What is your response?
6. You state 50% of homeless are either mentally ill or on drugs. How did you derive that figure?
7. You cite that 59% of homelessness is because of economic issues. Where did you get that figure?
8. Are you saying that these people are gainfully employed or employable and just cannot afford housing? If so, how many homeless are currently employed as a percentage? How many go to work each day?
9. I have had discussions with people on the front lines of the homeless issue and have been told a significant percentage of people who are homeless in the Los Angeles area are transplants. In other words, they moved here because of the weather and particularly the government benefits provided. Your plan did not address this issue. Did the studies you cited address this issue? Why should the residents of Los Angeles pay for the costs of extensive housing, medical and other benefits to homeless people who relocate from other urban areas?
The candidates talk about how they are going to cure the homeless problem, but rarely speak of the ongoing costs. They certainly do not delve into how many of these people are not Los Angeles residents which brings to question why the people of Los Angeles are bearing the cost. People do not realize that the current combined budget for Los Angeles City and County is about $1.5 billion. That is a stunning figure which is enlarged by the amount the State of California is pouring into the problem.
The question the Bass Campaign does not want to answer is why they believe these figures — that 59% of homelessness is due to economic issues and not drugs or mental illness. Multiple workers have told me most of the people they relocate off properties where the Homeless are squatting want to stay where they are. In the case I dealt with in Studio City, some moved elsewhere while others just relocated to adjacent sites where their removal from the area was delayed for another few months.
Then Rick Caruso jumped in with his tough guy campaign claiming he can solve the problem. His plan does not answer the same questions — again how much he is spending of our money housing people who are not even from this area. Building housing units without curing these people of their drug use and properly medicating them for mental health challenges is a waste. At least Caruso’s campaign consultant who drafted his plan does not perpetuate the lie that these people are homeless due to economic issues, but even their figure of how many are on the streets because of economic issues is far too high.
One highly placed source tried to help me access where this money is being spent in the city of Los Angeles. We found it was impossible to obtain the details even for highly placed city officials.
Candidates like Joe Buscaino, Kevin de Leon and Mike Feuer need to tell us what their plans are and whether they are going to continue draining the wallets of local residents as elected officials have in the recent past with negative results.
We need answers unless you want the crime, harassment, squalor, and other despicable effects of this homeless issue to go on for another decade or more.