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Karen Bass is sworn in as Los Angeles mayor as the city grapples with homelessness

New Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass speaks during her inaugural address on Sunday.
Damian Dovarganes
/
AP
New Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass speaks during her inaugural address on Sunday.

Karen Bass was sworn in as the mayor of Los Angeles on Sunday, becoming the first woman in the role.

Bass, a Democrat who was a longtime Congresswoman, secured 54.8% of the vote in November. She begins her term amid an intensifying homelessness crisis and a shake-up in city council, after three members were caught on tape having a racist conversation.

In October, recordings from a 2021 meeting were made public, in which then-Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez and Councilmen Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León were conversing about redistricting and made several racist remarks about Black residents.

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Martinez resigned, while Cedillo lost reelection. Days of protests outside city hall have followed since the recordings became public, and de León was involved in a physical altercation with an activist Friday at a holiday event.

Bass has previously promised to help heal Los Angeles and tap her connections within the local, state and federal government to solve LA's most pressing problems.

At Sunday's ceremony, after being sworn in by Vice President Kamala Harris, Bass said her first task as mayor will be to declare homelessness a state of emergency in the city.

Homelessness has risen in the Los Angeles area since the pandemic. The county released a 2022 report in September, after not doing so in 2021. The count reached 69,144 unhoused people across the county, up 4.1%, and 41,980 people in Los Angeles City, up 1.7% since 2020.

The population in Los Angeles county is about 9.8 million, while the city population is about 3.8 million.

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"My emergency declaration will recognize the severity of our crisis and break new ground to maximize our ability to urgently move people inside, and to do so for good," Bass said.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ayana Archie