LOS ANGELES - Mayor Karen Bass and a delegation of six City Council members concluded the first of several days of meetings in Washington D.C. Monday to advocate for additional resources for the city — with Bass reporting, "I think we definitely moved several of the decision-makers."
The contingent — including Council President Paul Krekorian and council members Bob Blumenfield, Eunisses Hernandez, Heather Hutt, Traci Park and Hugo Soto-Martinez — will be meeting with White House officials and members of California's congressional delegation before returning to L.A. on Thursday.
"It was an excellent trip. I think it was very important that we were here because we were able to make the case of L.A.," Bass told City News Service on Monday. "I think we definitely moved several of the decision-makers.
"We have grants that are pending here," she added, "and (the city officials will be) making the case for why we need the resources and ... reminding everybody about the World Cup coming in 2026 and the Olympics coming in 2028, and the fact that we need to be prepared and get those resources to our city ASAP."
Bass said the "follow up" afterward will signify whether the meetings on Monday and through the rest of the trip were successful — whether new initiatives come online or existing initiatives are promoted or enhanced.
Focal points of the meetings, Bass said, will be on bringing more unhoused Angelenos inside, improving public safety, adding resources for veterans, enhancing transportation and increasing access to federal funding.
Bass, who is chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors' National Task Force on Homelessness, said she is emphasizing L.A.'s homelessness crisis. The city has some 46,000 unhoused people, while the county has about 70,000, according to the 2023 homeless count.
"That's why it's so important that people are clear here, that decision-makers are clear about the magnitude of what we're dealing with," Bass said. "You cannot deal with Los Angeles like it is just another city that is struggling with homelessness. Nobody comes close to use in terms of the scale."
Monday, the group met with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to request expedited Federal Emergency Management Assistance reimbursements for COVID-related expenses and assistance with migrant buses from Texas.
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Bass told KNX News prior to the meeting with Mayorkas that Homeland Security, with the responsibility for allocating FEMA grants, owes "Los Angeles quite a bit of money."
"We are going back to appeal for that money," Bass said. "The other thing is that we are having increasingly (large) numbers of bus loads of migrants coming into town. There is federal money that can assist with that. Right now, Los Angeles does not get that money."
Councilwoman Hernandez told City News Service this trip means a lot to her.
"Our delegation has different points of views, but we're all here to advocate for a better city of Los Angeles and for more resources," Hernandez said. "It also means that my communities that I represent get to be at the table and these conversations when we're advocating for more infrastructure."
Hernandez said the delegation will be advocating for enhancements in transportation as well as talking with the Office of Gun Violence Prevention.
The city leaders are also expected to meet with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge to discuss requirements for rental assistance, such as expanding veteran eligibility for housing vouchers and providing more funding to develop affordable housing units.
Other meetings with White House officials will involve Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough; Department of Labor Acting Secretary Julie Su; Tom Perez and Neera Tanden, the White House directors of intergovernmental affairs and domestic policy council, respectively; Shalanda Young, director of the Office of Management and Budget; Gregory Jackson and Robert Wilcox, special assistants to the president and deputy directors for the Office of Gun Violence Prevention; Homeland Security Adviser Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall; and Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary Christopher Coes.
Park told KNX that she expects to speak with McDonough to address new housing on the V.A. West Los Angeles Campus in her 11th District, which includes neighborhoods in West L.A.
V.A. benefits play a role in preventing homeless veterans from qualifying for housing. Park added, "that's a kind of an adjustment that could have a significant impact on thousands of people who need help."
Park also told City News Service, "The experience is surreal in many ways, to get to stop and have a conversation with (Secretary of Transportation) Pete Buttigieg about the incredible work being done at the Port of L.A. and LAX, to talk about the opportunities to work together for the upcoming Olympic Games."
As a result of the trip, the City Council has canceled its regularly scheduled meetings for Tuesday and Wednesday. The Council will resume meetings on Friday, according to Krekorian's office.