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Gimme Shelter: Los Angeles mayoral candidates discuss homelessness plans

In this crossover episode, L.A. Times reporters Dough Smith and Ben Oreskes discuss plans by mayoral candidates Karen Bass and Rick Caruso to deal with homelessness.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Calif. — This story was originally published by CalMatters.

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If you’re paying attention to homelessness in California, you’re definitely paying attention to Los Angeles, home to the largest number of unhoused people in the country in 2020.

Unsurprisingly, homelessness has become a hot button issue in the heated Los Angeles mayoral election, which takes place on Nov. 8.

Angelenos are eager, if not desperate, for their next mayor to reduce the more than 41,000 people living in tents, RVs and shelters in the city. But the proposals from each candidate to address homelessness vary widely and were, until a recent L.A. Times analysis, sparse on the details.

U.S. Rep. Karen Bass plans to combine interim and permanent housing options by expanding and accelerating already-existing programs, like housing vouchers and Project Homekey. Her plan, which would theoretically bring more than 17,000 people indoors, has a price tag of $292 million.

Bass’ opponent, real estate developer Rick Caruso, says he would mostly focus on building new shelter beds for 30,000 people, costing around $800 million – plus operating costs.

This episode of Gimme Shelter is a crossover with The Los Angeles Times’ “The Times” podcast. The Times’ host Gustavo Arellano sat down with L.A. Times reporters Doug Smith and Ben Oreskes to flesh out the details of the candidates’ plans.

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