2022 LA mayoral election: Bass-Caruso debate live updates

On homelessness

Caruso mentioned his much-repeated promise to build 30,000 units in his first year in office. To realize this expensive plan, he wants to build tiny houses for 15,000 people, and place another 15,000 people temporarily in “sleeping pods” in existing structures, such as warehouses and empty buildings.

It would cost an estimated $843 million in the first year to build or acquire the housing and prepare it for occupancy. He declined to estimate the operating expenses for housing 30,000 people, but a Times analysis of city documents found that it would cost about $660 million a year, or about $22,000 per person.

Bass criticized Caruso’s plan, saying that it was exclusively about interim housing and didn’t offer a balanced approach. She has also put forward her own plan to bring 15,000 people indoors by trying to wring as much as possible out of the current system in order to expand both interim and permanent housing, although at a far smaller scale than Caruso envisions.

She would build new shelter beds to accommodate about 1,000 people, expand use of housing vouchers, lease and buy motels and hotels and try other approaches. The price tag in the first year would be $292 million, including construction costs and operating expenses for shelter beds.

“The shelters have become so dangerous that people don’t even want to be in the shelters and are choosing to be outside on the street, so we have have interim housing, but it has to be very limited in time, and we have to put people into permanent supportive housing,” Bass said.

Both candidates talked about how shelters can be problematic.

Caruso cited recent research from the Rand Corp. suggesting that the congregate shelters are not homeless people’s preferred destination. Fewer than a third of those surveyed in Hollywood, skid row and Venice said “group shelter” was an acceptable housing option.

What’s the biggest difference between you and your opponent?

Bass mentions homelessness and makes clear she is “a lifelong pro-choice Democrat.” She adds that she thinks “we can have a city where people are not priced out of housing but actually coming in.”

In Caruso’s answer to this question, he invokes his grandparents being from Boyle Heights before he mentions homelessness and crime. “LA is always the place where big dreams come true.”

Karen Bass and Rick Caruso face off at Skirball

With less than seven weeks until the Nov. 8 election, Rep. Karen Bass and real estate developer Rick Caruso are facing off in their first head-to-head debate tonight at Skirball Cultural Center.

Both campaigns have gone into combat mode in recent weeks, with Caruso and Bass attacking each other’s character and ethics. This will be their first time parrying blows without a crowd of other candidates beside them and it’s unclear what their dynamic will look like — or how negative the candidates will be willing to go.

The debate — which is sponsored by The Times, Univision, KPCC, the Skirball Cultural Center, the Los Angeles Urban League and Loyola Marymount University — is being moderated by Times columnist Erika D. Smith and Fox 11 News anchor Elex Michaelson.

The debate was preceded by one featuring the two candidates in the Los Angeles County sheriff’s race, Sheriff Alex Villanueva and retired Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna. Caruso greeted Villanueva as the sheriff left the stage. “Sounds like you did a good job,” Caruso told him. He also greeted Luna.

About 200 people are inside the venue at Skirball. Those in the audience include city councilman and former mayoral candidate Joe Buscaino and students from Loyola Marymount University, who are visible in their red and white T-shirts.

Bass finished the June primary with a seven-point lead and an August poll from the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, co-sponsored by The Times, showed her leading Caruso by 12 percentage points.

But nearly a quarter of Los Angeles voters are still undecided, according to the poll, and Wednesday’s debate offers a potentially decisive opportunity for Caruso and Bass to reintroduce themselves to voters just three weeks before general election ballots are mailed.

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