The Mayor’s Fund gets a new mission: Helping Bass fight homelessness
Good morning, and welcome to L.A. on the Record, our City Hall newsletter. It’s Dakota Smith steering the ship this week, with an assist from David Zahniser and Julia Wick.
The Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles, the nonprofit closely associated with City Hall, is pivoting to focus solely on preventing homelessness, a departure from its broader approach under the last mayoral administration.
Mayor Karen Bass briefly mentioned the nonprofit’s new homeless initiative at an event Thursday, where local leaders announced a 10% rise in homelessness in L.A. compared with the previous year.
In a follow-up interview, Bass said the money raised by the Mayor’s Fund will go toward helping tenants, among others. For instance, few members of the public know about the rental protections recently passed by the City Council, she said.
“That’s why we need grassroots groups to talk to people,” said Bass, who is an advisor to the nonprofit.
Bass has made ending homelessness a top priority. She declared a citywide emergency on homelessness the day she took office in December, launched a program to bring unhoused people indoors and has partnered with county officials on coordinating social services.
Under former Mayor Eric Garcetti, the Mayor’s Fund launched an array of civic-minded programs including international travel for youths, senior meals during the early days of COVID-19, and cybersecurity assistance for businesses.
The Mayor’s Fund acts at a landing spot for private donations and grants, with outside groups and city departments carrying out the programs. At times, the nonprofit came under fire from critics, who described it as a vehicle for big donors to curry favor with Garcetti by spending money on his favored causes.
Conway Collis, who joined the Mayor’s Fund as its chief executive several months ago, said the Mayor’s Fund has “refocused” on “emergency measures to prevent people from becoming homeless.”
Its homelessness program, called “We are L.A.,” will connect people to food and medical assistance, legal services, tenant help and more.
Collis said the nonprofit will contract with Black Women for Wellness, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), among other groups. The nonprofit is also funding healthcare centers through a partnership with St. John’s Well Child and Family Center.
The nonprofit plans to spend about $4.5 million in the coming months and will continue to fundraise, he said. Its focus may eventually broaden, but in the short term, homelessness will be the issue, he said.
“The mayor has made her focus and her priority addressing homelessness in Los Angeles,” Collis said. “You can’t address homelessness without preventing people from falling into it.”
State of play
— BLOWOUT in CD6: Imelda Padilla declared victory Friday in the election for the City Council District 6 seat in the central and northeast San Fernando Valley. After Friday’s updated vote count, Padilla led with nearly 56% of the vote, compared with rival Marisa Alcaraz‘s 44%. Padilla also stopped by the L.A. City Council on Friday and told the council: “Go East Valley.”
— SETTING A RECORD: Council President Paul Krekorian introduced a motion on Friday to make Padilla a voting member of the council, even before the final results are certified. That will leave the 15-member council with seven women, setting a new record for City Hall.
— END OF THE ROAD: A federal judge in Los Angeles on Friday upheld the conviction of longtime politician Mark Ridley-Thomas. His lawyers wanted to see him acquitted of corruption charges or granted a new trial. He’ll be sentenced later this summer.
— ANGER OVER HOMELESS COUNT: “It is clear to me what we have done so far has not worked,” City Councilmember Traci Park said after the latest numbers showed a 10% rise in homelessness in L.A. Since the 2015 count, homelessness has increased by 80% in the city, The Times’ Doug Smith and Ruben Vives reported.
— PRICE OUT IN THE DISTRICT: Councilmember Curren Price has kept a low profile since he was charged with perjury, embezzlement and conflict-of-interest violations two weeks ago. But our colleague Brittny Mejia reports that he met quietly Wednesday with a group of families displaced by LAPD’s botched 2021 fireworks detonation.
About 40 residents were in attendance, and Price attended along with representatives from several city departments. Price, who has previously proclaimed his innocence, spoke briefly about his legal case, telling the group that he was looking forward to his day in court so he could address the issue. The group of displaced residents has a weekly meeting organized by a local community organization, but this is the first time Price has gone in person.
— STATE BAR PROBES DWP SCANDAL: State Bar of California investigators revealed this week that “public proceedings” are expected in the next few months against attorneys connected to litigation over a faulty Department of Water and Power billing system launched in 2013.
— HOMELESS HOUSING CHALLENGE: A looming hotel workers’ strike would disrupt operations at the L.A. Grand, a downtown hotel that has been crucial to the mayor’s Inside Safe initiative. The idea of bringing in temporary workers, which some hotels may be contemplating, would be much more politically fraught at the L.A. Grand, given the city’s close relationship with organized labor.
— HORSESHOE REUNION: Former Councilmembers Joe Buscaino and Mitch O’Farrell and Councilmember Traci Park co-hosted a fundraiser for Councilmember John Lee’s reelection campaign Thursday in downtown L.A.
— PICKING A WATCHDOG: Controller Kenneth Mejia has nominated Reseda Neighborhood Council member Jamie York to the city Ethics Commission. York, who still needs to be confirmed, has been a vocal advocate for government reform.
— EMAIL DENOUNCED: The LAPD denounced an email written by a police officer who promised that a homeless encampment cleanup planned in the west San Fernando Valley would include mass arrests of homeless people. The department said the widely panned email — which also referred to a “hush hush task force” — did not represent the LAPD’s policies or practices.
Celebrating Tom Bradley
L.A. city employees and political leaders, both past and present, gathered at City Hall on Wednesday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of former Mayor Tom Bradley taking office, swapping stories about the city’s first Black mayor, who was elected in 1973 and went on to serve for 20 years.
The event, held in the observation tower, featured appearances from Mayor Karen Bass, Bradley’s daughters — Lorraine and Phyllis — and former Bradley press secretary Bill Chandler, who described the five-term mayor as a “deep listener” who could zero in on what hadn’t been said in a room but needed to be.
“When he spoke, there was clarity, there was passion, there was perspective,” Chandler said.
Spotted at the event were former council members who either worked for Bradley or held political office during his tenure, including Richard Alarcon, Robert Farrell, Ruth Galanter, Wendy Greuel, Nate Holden, Joy Picus and Zev Yaroslavsky. Members of that group held office at various points between 1974 and 2013.
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- Where is Inside Safe? Bass’ initiative to move L.A.’s unhoused residents indoors went to its first location in Councilmember Heather Hutt‘s district, focusing encampmanets at La Brea Avenue and Obama Boulevard. At least 35 people were moved indoors during the operation, per the mayor’s office.
On the docket for next week:
The City Council will hold its last meeting before its three-week summer break on Wednesday, which means the agenda will very likely be loaded down with dozens of items intended to tide the city over until Aug. 1, when council members next reconvene. Among the items on the agenda: Krekorian’s plan to make Padilla a voting council member, even before all the results have been tallied.
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