Karen Bass was sworn in as the first female mayor of Los Angeles on Sunday, marking another historic achievement in her career.
Kamala Harris – the first woman and first woman of color to become vice president – administered the oath of office at Los Angeles City Hall.
Bass focused her remarks Sunday on her plans to solve the city’s housing crisis, with some 40,000 people living on the streets, and said her first act as mayor will be to declare a state of emergency on homelessness.
“Today, too many Angelenos have no choice but to crowd multiple families into one home, and to work multiple jobs just to barely pay rent,” Bass said.
“Tragically, our city has earned the shameful crown as being home to the most crowded neighborhoods in the nation – Pico Union, South L.A., East L.A., the East Valley,” she added. “And Angelenos, we know our mission – we must build housing in every neighborhood.”
Though billions of dollars in state, city and county money are being directed toward interim and permanent housing units, construction has moved slowly. The latest count measured a 1.7% rise in homelessness from the last count in 2020.
Bass’ plan calls for housing 15,000 people by the end of one year and ending tent encampments using existing funding. She has said the city would put more resources into trained “neighborhood service teams” to connect people with housing and mental health services.
The six-term congresswoman has argued that her longtime relationships with state and national lawmakers would result in increased funding to Los Angeles to address the city’s housing crisis.
Bass has also promised to use her connections within the Biden administration to troubleshoot problems like the need for more federal housing vouchers. As mayor, she has said she would also pursue federal waivers to allow the creation of mental health and substance abuse facilities with a greater number of beds.
Bass, whose home was burglarized earlier this year during the campaign, has also promised to address concerns about crime, noting her proposal to bring police staffing back up at a time when the city has struggled to recruit new officers. She has proposed moving at least 250 police officers back onto patrol from administrative work and has said she would hire more civilian employees to free up more officers to get back on the beat.
Bass overcame a fierce challenge from real estate magnate Rick Caruso, who spent more than $104 million to defeat her in November. She’s succeeding term-limited Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Elected to the California state Assembly in 2004, Bass made history some four years later as the first Black woman to serve as speaker of any state legislature.
When Bass takes office, the four largest cities in the US will all have Black mayors – that includes Eric Adams of New York City, Lori Lightfoot of Chicago and Sylvester Turner of Houston.
This story has been updated with additional developments.