Thousands of homeless people living in encampments near freeways and homeless seniors will be brought indoors over a period of 18 months under a joint legal agreement signed by the county and city of Los Angeles and approved Thursday by a federal judge.
The city will provide 6,000 news beds within 10 months and an additonal 700 beds over 18 months under the agreement, according to a news release from the office of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Los Angeles County committed to investing $300 million over five years to fund essential services for people occupying the beds, the release said.
A federal judge last month appointed a mediator to oversee efforts to resolve the financial sticking point that delayed settlement of a lawsuit accusing city and county governments of not doing enough to address the homeless problem in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The arbitrator apparently helped officials find a solution to the question of responsibility for costs associated with bringing the homeless indoors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In mid-May, U.S. District Judge David Carter ordered Los Angeles authorities to move thousands of homeless people away from freeways and ramps because of the deadly hazards in those areas, including pollutants, passing cars and potential earthquakes. Carter said the county and city governments must provide alternative shelter to the 6,000 to 7,000 people who live under the freeways and on exit and entrance ramps.
Carter indicated the temporary injunction would go into effect on May 22, but allowed the parties to submit an alternative agreement. Talks broke down over shared funding, leading to the joint request for a second judge to oversee the dispute.
Carter then gave authorities until Sept. 1 to relocate anyone camped within 500 feet of a freeway. Housing options would include shelters, safe parking sites for recreation vehicles, or hotel or motel rooms. Carter required an initial status report to be filed by June 12, which was later extended to Thursday morning.
The lawsuit, filed in March by a group of downtown business owners and residents called the LA Alliance for Human Rights, alleges the city and county of Los Angeles have failed to protect the public and provide adequate shelter for those living on the streets. Plaintiffs sought to have a judge set a mandate to establish homeless services and sleeping options.