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Housing and Homelessness

Judge Tells LA County To Come Up With Better Settlement In Homelessness Case

A woman on crutches comes out of a struck with text on it reading "THE SHOWER HOPE," an icon of a shower, an icon of a green heart with a giant water drop inside it, and a web address that begins "www.theshower" before being cut off by a Black man in a green shirt standing in front of it. To the right, a light brown-skinned man stands wearing a light blue T-shirt.
Keith Jones holds the door open for a disabled woman who just used the facilities provided by Shower of Hope, a program that provides mobile showers to homeless people.
(Raquel Natalicchio
for CalMatters)
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Despite a proposed settlement reached with L.A. County in September, negotiations to resolve a long-running federal lawsuit over L.A.’s systemic failures to confront homelessness will continue after U.S. District Judge David Carter said Monday that the terms of the deal fall short of addressing the crisis.

Why it matters: Judge Carter has played a pivotal role in forcing local governments to step up homelessness efforts. He now says L.A. County’s $236 million proposal, including 300 new mental health and drug treatment beds for people experiencing homelessness, falls far short of the actual need on the streets. The county’s own Department of Mental Health has estimated that 3,000 additional mental health beds are needed. "I'm not prepared to endorse this agreement today," Carter said, according to Courthouse News Service. "I believe we can do better."

The backstory: The lawsuit — brought by a group including business owners and unhoused L.A. residents called the L.A. Alliance for Human Rights — was filed over two years ago. So far, it has led to the city and county of Los Angeles pledging a combined $3 billion over the next five years for new shelter resources, as well as addiction and mental health services.

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The reaction: L.A. Alliance attorney Matthew Umhofer told LAist, “It's understandable why the judge would say, ‘Wait a minute, I want to see more on this front.’ Because mental health and substance use disorder are two of the major issues driving the biggest challenges in the homelessness population.”

What's next: Carter told both sides of the case to come back to court in January, after new elected leaders have taken office, with a better settlement proposal on the table.

Go deeper:

LA County To Commit $236M Toward Services For Unhoused Angelenos To Settle Long-Running Lawsuit