Mayor Bass hosts U.S. Conference of Mayors, gathered to address homeless crisis

Mayors hope to build national momentum to solve what they say is a national crisis

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About 20 mayors from across the natioon joined Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass in L.A. this week for a U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) gathering to discuss strategies for combating homelessness and to advocate for federal resources they say are needed to confront this national crisis.

Bass, who became chair of the USCM’s Homelessness Task Force in June, hosted the group of visiting mayors, who shared best practices and identified potential solutions to barriers that they hope to communicate to White House officials and federal lawmakers.

“When we join together as mayors, we build the national momentum to get this solved,” Bass said during a press conference on Thursday, Nov. 9, at the Westin Bonaventure hotel in downtown L.A., where the mayors had gathered.

“Mayors are on the ground. Mayors are first responders. And we bear the responsibility to make sure that no one in the U.S. is left without housing, is left without support services and left to live and die on our streets,” Bass said.

USCM President and Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve said elected officials need to start calling out outdated or failing policies, such as the fact that federal funding to combat homelessness often goes to state or county governments but not to the cities.

The group of mayors also brought up the need for policymakers to tackle issues like mental health illnesses and substance abuse as part of a comprehensive approach to addressing homelessness.

Wade Kapszukiewicz, the mayor of Toledo, Ohio, listed some major requests that the group of mayors is seeking from the federal government, including a dramatic increase in housing vouchers, more federal protections for tenants facing evictions, increased emergency rental assistance and more investments in mental health and other support services.

“(We’re) not interested in talking; we’re interested in doing,” Kapszukiewicz said.

Immediately following the press conference, the mayors participated in a discussion with White House Domestic Policy Advisor Neera Tanden, who announced that the Biden administration will issue guidance to increase the flexibility in the federal housing voucher program to shorten the time someone must wait for housing.

In addition, Tanden announced that the Biden administration launch a program to better ensure that people coming out of treatment for, say, substance abuse, will have access to Medicaid services.

“We know the federal government can be a burden or it can be a partner, and our goal is to be a partner,” Tanden said.

The Biden administration had previously set a goal of reducing homelessness nationwide by 25% by the year 2025.

Click here to read the full article in the Press Enterprise

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