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Homeless LA Residents Are Ordered To Be Moved From Under Freeways

A homeless encampment under 101 overpass at Alvarado Street (Gabriel Cortés/KPCC)
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A landmark court order announced Friday bans homeless encampments from under and along Los Angeles freeways.

It also requires the city and county to create new shelter beds "or alternative housing options" for the people who are relocated.

U.S. District Judge David O. Carter handed down the order, which goes into effect on May 22, with explicit directions:

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  • People residing in freeway-adjacent spaces must be given advanced warning before the encampment is cleared.
  • Alternative shelter housing must be made available to anyone forced to relocate.
  • Shelter space must also be provided for personal belongings.
  • Shelter spaces must adhere to social distancing and have adequate hygiene facilities.

The order says the city and county must provide shelter, or alternatives such as "safe parking sites, or hotel and motel rooms contracted under Project Roomkey."

In addition to public health concerns related to COVID-19, Carter cited other risks to living near a freeway, including increased risk of being struck by a vehicle.


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The decision stems from a lawsuit the LA Alliance for Human Rights filed against the city and county for failing to respond to the homelessness crisis. The Alliance's policy advisor, Daniel Conway, says the ruling gives the parties a window of time to negotiate something other than his order.

The coalition of Skid Row businesses and homeless advocates have been working with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) as part of a settlement agreement.

LAHSA interim executive director Heidi Marston issued this statement: "LAHSA is committed to helping the most vulnerable people experiencing homeless, including those who are living near freeways and under overpasses. Our outreach teams will continue to connect our clients to available resources throughout Los Angeles County."

This is not Judge Carter's first foray into forcing the hand of policy makers. His involvement in the clearing of a longstanding encampment along the Santa Ana riverbed in 2018 made significant inroads in establishing more shelter space in Orange County.

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Read the order below: