A Los Angeles federal judge on Tuesday ordered the city and county to offer some form of shelter or housing to the entire homeless population of skid row by October, according to the LA Times.
The order by Judge David O. Carter - a preliminary injunction granted to plaintiffs in the case last week - also requires the city and county to offer single mothers and their children on skid row a place to stay within 90 days, help families within 120 days before the Oct. 18 deadline for the rest of the homeless population in the area. The city must also put $1 billion into an escrow account to fund the program.
It is unknown whether the city or county will challenge the order, which were found to have wrongly focused on permanent housing at the expense of more temporary shelter, "knowing that massive development delays were likely while people died in the streets," according to the report.
"Los Angeles has lost its parks, beaches, schools, sidewalks, and highway systems due to the inaction of city and county officials who have left our homeless citizens with no other place to turn," wrote Carter in his 110-page brief which was 'sprinkled with quotes from Abraham Lincoln and an extensive history of how skid row was first created.'
"All of the rhetoric, promises, plans, and budgeting cannot obscure the shameful reality of this crisis — that year after year, there are more homeless Angelenos, and year after year, more homeless Angelenos die on the streets," the briefing continues. According to the report, over 1,300 homeless people died in Los Angeles county last year.
In the last homeless count in January 2020, more than 4,600 unhoused people were found to be living on skid row — about 2,500 in large shelters and 2,093 on the streets. They account for only slightly more than 10% of the city’s overall homeless population, and it’s not clear what Carter’s order might mean for other parts of the city.
The judge wrote that “after adequate shelter is offered,” he would allow the city to enforce laws that keep streets and sidewalks clear of tents so long as they’re consistent with previous legal rulings that have limited the enforcement of such rules. That appears to only apply to skid row.
He also ordered the county to offer “support services to all homeless residents who accept the offer of housing” including placements in “appropriate emergency, interim, or permanent housing and treatment services.” The costs would be split by the city and county, he said. -LA Times
The county previously attempted to wiggle out of the case, arguing that it was solely a matter for the city to handle, and that the county had been 'aggressively responding to homelessness' already without any direction from the court. County attorneys argued that they had spent hundreds of millions of dollars through a sales tax and other measures.
Outside counsel for the county, Skip Miller, said that the push for an injunction "is an attempt by property owners and businesses to rid their neighborhood of homeless people," adding "There is no legal basis for an injunction because the county is spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year on proven strategies."
The plaintiffs, the LA Alliance for Human Rights, are 'ecstatic' about the ruling, according to their attorney, Matthew Umhofer, who said that the judge's order was exactly what they were seeking when they filed the case.
"This is exactly the kind of aggressive emergency action that we think is necessary on the issue of homelessness in Los Angeles," said Umhofer.
Read the rest of the report here.