Assemblymember Richard Bloom has tossed his hat in the ring for County Supervisor and is building his platform on a slate of progressive policies: from tackling homelessness and housing affordability, to expanding mental health services, to addressing the climate crisis.
This week on the Inside the Daily Press Podcast, the former Santa Monica Mayor discussed his upcoming run for the coveted Supervisor position and the approach he would take to several of the County’s most salient challenges.
While the election is not until 2022, Bloom chose to announce his candidacy in January as current Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said she would not run for a third term. If elected to represent the County’s 3rd District, Bloom would oversee a population of roughly 2 million residents.
As his term limit in the state assembly will expire in 2024, Bloom has decided to seize the opportunity provided by Kuehl’s departure to try and continue his career in public service. Bloom believes his years of experience in local and state government have equipped him with a strong skill set to address the many pressing issues facing the County.
“I think for residents and for voters, there’s no question in my mind that homelessness is at the top of their list of concerns,” said Bloom. “This is something that I’ve worked on since I was first elected in 1999, and I think I understand the issue.”
Bloom believes the County’s ongoing uptick in homelessness is closely linked to the affordability crisis and that rising homeownership and rental prices are driving many individuals to the street.
He is not a huge fan of more experimental homelessness solutions such as using tiny homes or shipping containers to create a rapid and cost-effective supply of shelter.
Instead, Bloom believes that existing services — such as interim housing shelters, permanent supportive housing, and street intervention teams — are effective approaches to addressing homeless that need to be expanded.
“We really need to scale up everything that we’re doing. We know how to do it; it’s a question of scale,” said Bloom. “We need more temporary and permanent housing. We need to provide more both on the mental health and substance abuse side.”
Mental health is a topic that Bloom is keenly focused on as he fears the County is teetering on the edge of a mental health crisis that it is unprepared to address.
“Coming out of COVID, we are going to see dramatically increased levels of post traumatic stress syndrome, related to the stressful conditions that people have been living under for what will be a minimum of 18 months,” said Bloom.
As a Supervisor, Bloom said he would seek a more community based approach to mental health, where supportive services are offered at a local level and people are not reliant on 911 calls and hospitalization as their primary mental health crisis response.
At the same time, Bloom recognizes the need to have a robust mental health infrastructure built into the healthcare system and said there is a shortage of psychiatric hospital beds in the County.
“When it comes to mental health, I see that as a great need. It’s something that is dramatically underfunded in the state,” said Bloom. “We have thousands of dedicated people who work on mental health issues, but they’re beleaguered and need more help. We need to expand services and do a much better job of delivering mental health services.”
Other topics of concern Bloom highlighted include post-Covid economic recovery and responding to the climate crisis. He expressed strong interest in having a seat on the Metro Board as a Supervisor, because this would give him greater influence over the expansion of the County’s public transportation systems.
To hear more of Bloom’s thoughts on tackling key issues in L.A. County, listen to this week’s episode of ‘Inside the Daily Press’ wherever you get your podcasts.