Letters to the Editor: Asking the rich for donations won’t solve L.A.’s housing crisis

L.A. Mayor Karen Bass delivers the State of the City address on April 15.
L.A. Mayor Karen Bass delivers the State of the City address on April 15.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: I am writing to to express my dismay at the “ambitious” housing initiative unveiled by L.A. Mayor Karen Bass in her State of the City address. It boils down to begging for donations from the city’s wealthy to purchase apartment buildings to house homeless people.

In a city such as Los Angeles, with an incredibly low apartment vacancy rate, this only adds another source of demand that competes with a highly limited supply. If we do not increase the supply of apartments, middle- and working- class renters will simply have another source of competition for already scarce housing.

As a renter, I voted for Bass in the hope that she would be able to navigate the city’s complex housing approval system and streamline construction for subsidized and market-rate housing. Instead, her most ambitious housing-related reform, Executive Directive 1, has had mixed results. If this is the best she can do, then we are truly sunk.


While the state government’s approach to housing reform has certainly not been perfect, it appears that our only hope for long-term relief of this housing crisis will come from Sacramento, rather than the frankly depressing statements out of L.A. City Hall.

Edward Williams, Los Angeles


To the editor: While I applaud anyone who responds to Bass’ plea for donations to build or buy housing for the homeless, it will be a drop in the bucket and entirely insufficient unless the city changes the type of housing it builds.

With an average cost of the units being built today at about $600,000, and with 46,000 unhoused people in the city of Los Angeles, the cost to house all of them could be around $30 billion. That’s more than twice the city’s 2023-24 budget.

That amount of money will never be available, even if the wealthy in L.A. pitch in.

The only path to eventually house that population is smaller units, such as 200-square foot single-room occupancy apartments, and room sharing, as seen in collaborative housing programs. Otherwise, we will only be able to house a small fraction of those in need.


Mark Ryavec, Venice

The writer is president of the Venice Stakeholders Assn.