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Judge Slams LA's 'Inadequate' Attempts To Improve Homeless Conditions

Homelessness on Skid Row, photographed on June 30, 2019 in Los Angeles. (James Bernal for LAist)
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Weeks after officials announced a large and swift response to protect the homeless from COVID-19, what’s actually happening on the ground isn’t meeting promises.

That was the subject of discussion Tuesday at the latest hearing in a federal court case that charges L.A. has handled mass homelessness with negligence.

During the hearing, Federal Judge David Carter chastised L.A.’s response to shield homeless people from COVID-19, at one point suggesting politicians responsible for the homelessness crisis be named on a "wall of shame."

In his earlier order convening the hearing, Carter wrote that recent attempts to improve sanitary conditions for homeless have been “inadequate."

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On a tour of Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles, he found several recently placed handwashing stations without water.

Meanwhile, 50 handwashing stations owned by the Andy Gump company are already being removed after an employee was pierced by a disused needle while servicing one of the stations.

Mayor Eric Garcetti’s plan to quickly open 42 recreation centers in the city of Los Angeles as homeless shelters is also falling way short of its initial promise to provide at least 6,000 new shelter beds.

Because of the need to keep cots 6 feet apart inside, the combined capacity of all the proposed shelters will end up being closer to 2,000 beds.

According to a status report filed to Carter’s court on Monday, the city of Los Angeles has so far converted 16 recreation centers into homeless shelters, providing approximately 700 beds. More will open once they receive staffing assignments.

At one point during Tuesday’s hearing, Judge Carter asked city staff for the personal phone numbers of both L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Attorney Mike Feuer, demanding clearer communication from the city.

After the hearing concluded, Judge Carter took lawyers representing L.A. County on a walking tour of downtown L.A., where they found more handwashing stations without water.