The Mayor of Los Angeles Wants to Prove Homelessness Can Be Solved

When Karen Bass took office as Los Angeles mayor with a mandate to tackle homelessness, Venice Beach was at the top of her agenda.

By late 2022, more than 100 people were living there in wall-to-wall tents alongside seven-figure bungalows, a shop selling $180 linen pillowcases and the Gold’s Gym that Arnold Schwarzenegger made famous.

On a recent morning in the neighborhood, however, dog walkers navigated the wide sidewalks with little trouble, and there wasn’t a tent in sight.

This is what Ms. Bass and her allies say is progress. More than a year into her term, the sidewalks and parks in Los Angeles are, on the whole, cleaner. But momentum in the nation’s second most populous city is fragile.

Inside Safe, the mayor’s flagship program providing motel rooms for homeless residents who leave encampments, is too costly to sustain as the city faces budget problems. The people staying in motels say their lives are in limbo until they get permanent housing. And every day, more Angelenos become homeless and new encampments form.

Some unhoused Los Angeles residents have been given temporary housing at Hotel Silver Lake.Credit…Mark Abramson for The New York Times

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