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Housing and Homelessness

Hundreds More Mental Health And Addiction Beds For LA’s Unhoused Could Be Coming This Year

Tents in front of skyscrapers in Downtown Los Angeles.
A row of tents in downtown Los Angeles, on May 21, 2020.
(Apu Gomes
AFP via Getty Images)
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L.A. County officials have agreed to a new legal settlement that promises hundreds of new beds in the coming months for unhoused people with mental illnesses or substance addiction. It will be up to a judge to decide Thursday whether to approve it.

The details

The proposed settlement with LA Alliance for Human Rights would require adding a total of 1,450 beds to meet that need over the coming years. They’d be available mainly for unhoused people within L.A. city limits.

A little less than half of those beds — 650 — would be required to become available by the end of this year, under the terms of the agreement.

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It’s a major jump from the 300 total beds proposed in a previous deal that was rejected in November by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter.

That said, the new deal remains far short of the 3,000 additional mental health beds a county report found were needed as of 2019 — a number housing experts say has likely expanded since then as the number of unhoused people in the city has continued to rise.

The lack of bed availability in L.A. “result(s) in people being discharged to the street and perpetuating homelessness,” the county report found at the time.

Carter is scheduled to weigh in on the proposal at a hearing Thursday at a downtown L.A. federal courthouse.

When he rejected the county’s previous settlement proposal, Carter said it didn’t provide enough mental health and substance abuse beds.

“I believe we can do better,” Carter said at the time.

Supervisor Janice Hahn responds

L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who chairs the board of supervisors that oversees county government, told LAist she supports the deal.

If we can solve the homeless problem in the city of Los Angeles, we have really gone so far towards ending homelessness in L.A. County.
— Supervisor Janice Hahn
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“This is going to mean more mental health treatment beds, more substance abuse treatment beds. So we are going to get more people who have been languishing on our streets the help they need,” Hahn said in an interview Wednesday.

“If we can solve the homeless problem in the city of Los Angeles, we have really gone so far towards ending homelessness in L.A. County. So this is where we’re focused,” she added.

In a separate settlement reached last year, L.A. city officials agreed to create more than 14,000 more beds for unhoused people within five years. But those would not be for people with serious mental illnesses or substance use disorders — because, the city said, that’s the county’s responsibility.

When will the beds become available?

If approved by Carter, the new county settlement would require 1,000 new beds for people with mental health or substance use disorders over the next 3 1/2 years.

The first 300 beds would have to be available by the end of June, with another 310 by the end of this year and the rest of the beds phased in by the end of 2026.

The agreement would also require the county to provide subsidies for another 450 people to live and get services at board and care homes in residential neighborhoods. Those would be slower to roll out, with just 40 required by the end of this year and the next 160 by the end of 2024.

The proposed deal also increases the number of county street outreach teams to cover all Los Angeles city council districts, according to the county.

County officials called the settlement “historic” in a news release announcing the deal.

It involves $850.5 million in additional funding to increase beds, services, outreach, and interim housing, according to the county.

“I think this agreement — while it’s not maybe as good as some wanted — it is a lot better than the last one,” Hahn told LAist.

“And I hope the judge agrees.”

Read the proposed settlement

Click here to read the proposed county settlement.

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