Home>Articles>The Failings of LA Mayor Bass’ Inside Safe Homeless Initiative

Echo Park in Los Angeles (Photo: Evan Symon for California Globe)

The Failings of LA Mayor Bass’ Inside Safe Homeless Initiative

‘Inside Safe has just plain hurt us’

By Evan Symon, March 29, 2023 2:30 am

For the last several months, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass’ Inside Safe Project, a “housing first” homelessness initiative that places many in hotels and motels, has been in operation in LA. While the Globe has reported that many, especially the owners of the motels, have been upset with the plan, many homeless have also been less than thrilled with the plan as well.

Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times reported that many homeless people have grown frustrated with the plan, as the city has shifted them from motel to motel throughout the city. And as the Globe found out on Tuesday, it has begun to wreck many lives in the process.

“Inside Safe has just plain hurt us,” noted Wanda Walker, a homeless woman who has been housed by the city since late last year. “Before all that, I was living on the street in a tent. It wasn’t glamourous, but I generally stayed close enough to work to walk there, and was chipping away at a savings account for a down payment on a small apartment. Again, I know this isn’t much, but I was getting there.”

“But once I was brought to the motels, and moved around again and again, keeping the job proved impossible. Each new place meant a new bus or metro schedule to go on, and it reminded me why I left [Operation Roomkey Housing] a year or two back. A lot of us really so want to work and get out from being homeless. Once you get an apartment, you can get food and health benefits and begin your own life again with the goal of getting off them. Contrary to popular belief, a lot of us hate having to rely on the government nd handouts, and a good job is the base to get out of that. But when they send you to a hotel far away from work, you need to suddenly choose between street living and living in a motel free of charge.”

The failings of Inside Safe

For others Inside Safe was good at first, but as different needs arose, many homeless quickly turned on the program.

“For awhile, having housing like that was great,” added “Ronaldo”, a homeless man who wished to use a pseudonym out of fear of not being allowed housing in the future. “But some of us started getting jobs far enough where it would require taking the bus or something, and we asked for closer housing, and it just didn’t work out. I know there is concern over entitlement,, and it could seem that way, but this was a need on our part, and we were just shut down.

“And this is it. This is the failing of the system. A lot of us want to visit family who couldn’t put us up, or go to work, or really start our lives up again, but being tied down to this housing drags us down. Especially when they essentially can move you at any time. LA and Mayor Bass just want it to seem that you’re so grateful to be housed that you won’t have other concerns. And, granted, they’ll do a lot of things for you, but a lot of us just want to be self-sufficient again. Many of us just fell on hard times and want to find a way back. And that may mean not having an apartment for awhile. We need close housing to places to work to get out of the system, not be shuffled around at their whim. And be treated like humans. At some places, we aren’t even allowed guests, like family, to come and visit. And the city wonders why so many of us are beginning to hate this program.”

John, a third homeless person, briefly added “We just want a pathway back to being regular citizens. It can be some shifts at a McDonalds and a bare studio apartment, but we want a normal life again. Whatever the city is trying to do now ain’t it.”

Statistics on the LA Inside Safe Project are likely to come soon.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Evan Symon
Spread the news:


7 thoughts on “The Failings of LA Mayor Bass’ Inside Safe Homeless Initiative

  1. When will the upcoming Olympics become part of the equation with the homeless issues in Los Angeles?

  2. Thank you, Evan Symon, great article. The personal quotes from those affected by this program contribute so well to our understanding of how and why it has failed those who are sincerely looking for help out of their mess. We know from experience that these (very very expensive city and other programs are all for show, to make it look as though the govt entities are “doing something,” that it is all a part of the Homeless Industrial Complex; thus effectiveness or actual help is not a consideration.
    By the way, those interviewed for this article would be excellent candidates for the real help offered at L.A.’s Union Rescue Mission. I hope each of them will take the step to begin putting their lives back together with the Mission’s help and see for themselves what real assistance and real caring and real compassion can do.

    1. Amen to the healing work the Union Rescue Mission does for those being devastated by homelessness. The US Government, State of California, City and County of LA, and LAHSA can all learn quite a few lessons from URM and those wo have successively made it through their programs. God bless Andy Bales and the staff at URM, Hope Gardens and the newest facility, Angeles House in Compton.

  3. Most Americans commute – average 30-40 minutes each way.
    Transportation to get to jobs needs to at the lowest level of concerns. On both sides. Deal with it, since everyone else knows this is the price of employment – commutes, sometimes very long commutes. Every single day.

    Always an excuse, is what I am hearing.

    These are the have-nots “homeless” who are in this situation complaining about the free housing they are getting. They are the higher functioning groups, who can work and abide by rules. They are not a test case for “homelessness” at all.

    Bass still needs to deal with the “can nots” and the “will nots”, if she is serious about attacking the malaise street people have inflicted on her city. No points just dealing with these higher functioning “have nots”,, and now jumping to their every demand.

  4. Wow! You are giving me free housing but it requires me to take a bus to work which is unfair. Really? We need a carrot AND a stick. Living in a tent should be so difficult that a motel room would be appreciated.

  5. The homeless industrial complex is doing quite well financially. The real experts are generally ignored!(Union rescue mission,salvation army etc.) The problem is only going to get worsr!
    Time for a Marshall plan and zero tolerance for those who do not want to cooperate! IMHO nothing else will work to lower the amount of homeless!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *