Karen Bass was sworn in as mayor of Los Angeles on Sunday, becoming the first woman to hold the post.
Bass, a Democrat and longtime congresswoman, won 54.8% of the vote in November. She begins her term amid an escalating homelessness crisis and upheaval in the city council, after three members are filmed having a racist conversation.
In October, recordings of a 2021 meeting were released, in which Los Angeles City Council Speaker Nury Martinez and councilors Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León discussed the redistricting and made several racist remarks to about black residents.
Martinez resigned, while Cedillo lost re-election. Days of protests outside City Hall have followed since the tapes became public, and de León was involved in a physical altercation with an activist Friday at a holiday event.
Bass has previously pledged to help heal Los Angeles and leverage his connections in local, state and federal government to solve Los Angeles’ most pressing issues.
At Sunday’s ceremony, after being sworn in by Vice President Kamala Harris, Bass said her first job as mayor would be to declare homelessness a state of emergency in the city.
Homelessness has increased 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 people without homes countywide, up 4.1%, and 41,980 people in Los Angeles. , up 1.7% since 2020.
The population of Los Angeles County is around 9.8 million, while the population of the city is around 3.8 million.
“My emergency declaration will recognize the severity of our crisis and innovate to maximize our ability to urgently move people indoors, and to do so for good,” Bass said.