LOS ANGELES - U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge visited Los Angeles Thursday at the request of Rep. Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, to get a firsthand look at the city's homelessness crisis and how federal dollars are being used to address it.
"Tackling the homelessness crisis through a Housing First approach is a top priority. At HUD, we are focused on ensuring that people have safe, stable, accessible housing and supportive services. Together we have an opportunity to solve this crisis and help people suffering live with healthy, hope, and dignity," Fudge said in a statement ahead of the meeting.
Bass, who is running for mayor in Tuesday's primary, hosted the event in her capacity as congresswoman to show Fudge the urgent need for additional housing assistance, according to Bass' office. The tour, which included visits to housing facilities that receive federal funding, focused on the need for Section 8 housing vouchers and more low-income and moderate housing units. Fudge and Bass also met with housing and service providers.
Speaking to reporters, Fudge insisted the federal government is working to address the problem in Los Angeles, which she referred to as the "epicenter of homelessness."
The homelessness crisis in Los Angeles and across California has taken center stage in the mayoral campaign.
"What's different about LA is the extreme nature of our problem but also because this housing market is so expensive," Bass said.
Bass' campaign calls for temporary housing and permanent supportive housing to get the city's unhoused population off the street, setting an ambitious goal of housing 15,000 people by the end of her first year as mayor. Her temporary housing plan includes identifying available city-owned land; converting existing motels, hotels, closed hospitals and vacant commercial buildings; and partnering with religious and community institutions, as well as private companies. To build long-term and affordable housing, she calls for policies that will expedite affordable housing developments and state funding to increase units through the Project Homekey program. She also calls for more affordable housing, saying 352,000 people in Los Angeles are at risk of becoming homeless.
More than 66,433 people were experiencing homelessness across Los Angeles County during the most recent count in January 2020, with 41,290 identified in the city. The 2021 count was canceled due to COVID-19, and the 2022 count took place in February, with results expected over summer.