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Housing and Homelessness

A 2-Year Lawsuit Demanded LA Shelter Unhoused People. Officials Have Agreed

City Hall against a blue sky from the perspective of someone looking up.
As part of the agreement with the L.A. Alliance for Human Rights, the city will provide beds over the next five years in each council district for 60% of the city’s unsheltered residents.
(Ethan Ward
/
LAist)
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The city of Los Angeles Friday announced the settlement of its part of a lawsuit filed two years ago demanding the local government find shelter for the unhoused population in the city and the county.

As part of the agreement with the L.A. Alliance for Human Rights, the city will provide beds over the next five years in each council district for 60% of the city’s unsheltered residents. The city is expected to bring 14,000 to 16,000 beds online.

The city council and U.S. District Court Judge David Carter, who's overseeing the case, must still approve the settlement.

The agreement settles a key part of a case stemming from a March 2020 federal lawsuitover housing for people living on Skid Row.

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Since the suit was first filed, the scope of the case has expanded to L.A.'s larger unhoused community.

The city's housing commitment is based on the results of the 2020 unhoused count. The 2022 point-in-time homeless count results will be released next month. Once the city reaches its shelter obligation, it will be allowed to enforce the city’s anti-camping ordinance in that entire district. The city does not have a department of mental health.

The suit was initially brought by the L.A. Alliance and eight individual plaintiffs against the county and city of L.A., alleging they were moving too slowly to get people off the streets and into housing. The L.A. Alliance included current and formerly unhoused residents of Skid Row, business and property owners, and a real estate professional who had interests in the downtown neighborhood.

L.A. County, which is also a defendant in the case, is not part of the proposed settlement. The city said it will be working with L.A. Alliance to ensure the county is meeting its obligations that include, in part, providing wraparound services for people experiencing homelessness who are sheltered in the city and increasing the number of mental health beds for inpatient treatment.

L.A. County applauded the news of the settlement in a statement. It expressed hope the deal provides relief to people experiencing homelessness and said it will continue to use its resources to equitably support unhoused people.

"Since voters passed Measure H in 2017, the County has housed more than 75,000 people experiencing homelessness and in the last three years has ramped up shelter capacity 60 percent," the statement said, adding the county "will spend a record $1 billion this year on programs to house even more people while providing mental health and other services to those in need."

Skip Miller, one of the county's outside lawyers in the case, said in a statement that the suit "has no merit with regard to the county. It is between the plaintiffs and the city, and we’re glad they settled. We intend to litigate and win this case.”

L.A. County attempted to free itself of the case in March 2021, filing a motion requesting Judge Carter dismiss the county from the suit. He denied that request in May 2021.

Carter is not unfamiliar with landmark homelessness lawsuits — in 2018,he supervised a case that forced 20 cities in Orange County to set up shelter and services for their unhoused residents.

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